Elkhart County is poised to become a “PAX County” thanks to a special training being offered exclusively for Elkhart County schools by PAX Good Behavior Game founder, Dr. Dennis Embry. The PAX Game (“Pax” is the Latin word for “peace”) is a simple classroom strategy that immediately improves classroom behavior and has multiple long-term benefits for children over their lifetime. Approximately 40 educators, representing all seven school districts, will become PAX Partners by attending a training sponsored by Horizon Education Alliance (HEA) on October 14 and 15 with Dr. Embry.
Seven PAX Partners were trained in 2013 as a result of a grant awarded to HEA from the Elkhart County Community Foundation, and 60 classroom teachers in five school districts were then trained to implement PAX in their classrooms. Interest in the program spread quickly across the county and additional teachers wanted to be trained. With the upcoming PAX Partner training, there will be sufficient capacity to train every first grade classroom teacher in the county.
“We at HEA feel very fortunate that the founder of this program, Dr. Embry, is coming here to provide this training,” said HEA Early Education Coordinator Dr. Bruce Stahly.
PAX is an evidence-based, cost-effective prevention strategy that teachers use in their classroom to improve lifetime mental and behavioral health outcomes, also increasing lifetime academic success. PAX is a simple game played during regular classroom instruction in which small teams of students strive to maintain good behavior in order to win simple prizes. The game begins by the teacher blowing a harmonica. Elkhart Community Schools Behavior Consultant, Myra Cors, is a PAX Partner: “Students get excited about the game itself, and as they play more you can see the students building confidence and self-control. You begin to see a real sense of community being built in the room and you see ownership for making the classroom a more peaceful learning environment.”
Laura Caffrey, another PAX Partner and Assistant Principal at Concord West Side Elementary, said “PAX is now used as a building-wide system that supports our teachers and helps our students. If I need students’ attention for an assembly or in the lunchroom, I just use the harmonica.”
HEA has tracked the results of PAX in the sixty Elkhart County classrooms and PAX has demonstrated strong impact on students’ behavior, positive relationships and increased instructional time.
Dr. Embry is senior scientist at PAXIS Institute in Tucson, AZ, and a co-investigator at Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention as well as co-investigator with the Promise Neighborhood Research Consortium. He has personally created multiple interventions using both cultural wisdom and leading edge science to prevent multiple physical, mental, social and behavioral disorders. He is one of the few scientists to demonstrate such prevention scientifically across entire communities, states and even countries