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Charles City’s Conklin recognized as PBIS Person of the Year

Charles City’s Conklin recognized as PBIS Person of the Year
Charles City teacher Marie Conklin (Press file photo James Grob.)
By James Grob,

Charles City teacher and teacher-coach Marie Conklin recently received recognition as a PBIS Person of the Year in the state of Iowa, the Iowa Education Association announced.

“She has been instrumental to our success with PBIS at both Washington and Lincoln over the last several years,” Lincoln Elementary Principal Marcia DeVore said of Conklin. “Her role as a success coach has been to monitor implementation, problem-solve when we’ve encountered challenges.”

PBIS stands for “Positive Behavior, Interventions and Supports.” It teaches positive behaviors and behavior expectations, much like reading and math and other core subjects are taught.

The honor is for an individual who has contributed significantly to PBIS within the entity they are working with, according to DeVore. DeVore said Conklin was the only person recognized from the Central Rivers AEA, which is the state’s biggest region. Part of the process is to network with coaches in other districts in the region.

“She is so giving to other schools,” DeVore said. “She is consistently recognized as a leader and a role model.”

Geri Verding, external PBIS coach at Central Rivers Area Education Agency, nominated Conklin for the honor.

Conklin said the honor came as a “nice surprise.”

“I’m so fortunate that I get to wake up in the morning and go do what I love,” she said. “It always feel good to know that people notice the hard work you do. I love working alongside all of our teachers, and it’s not possible to do this without the work and support of the staff.”

Conklin, now in her seventh year with the Charles City Community School District, works primarily with students in special education with behavior goals. She also has served as a teacher-coach in Charles City for the last four years, which is the basis for the PBIS recognition.

“When we began this process with PBIS, we didn’t have success coaches at that time,” DeVore said. “When we were able to add success coaches, it was a natural fit for Marie’s skill set.”

She also received recognition last year, when Conklin attended the American Psychological Association’s annual conference in Chicago to present the results of a research project she completed while working on her master’s degree in special education from Morningside College. Her work was chosen from hundreds of applicants, and she shared her findings and explained how they are significant at the four-day event.

“We’re very proud of the work that she’s done,” DeVore said. “We know that we benefit greatly, both staff and students, for the work she has done for our district.”

Conklin said the recognition is based on implementing the support for students to be successful at various levels.

“Students don’t go to school with the intention to misbehave,” Conklin said. “When they wake up, they want to be the best versions of themselves. Sometimes we have to help them learn skills to cope with issues so they can be successful.”

Conklin’s work is directly related to teachers at Lincoln and Washington Elementary Schools in Charles City recently earning the highest possible recognition for their participation in the PBIS program.

The local elementary schools were two of just three schools in the state of Iowa to be named a PBIS Model School in 2020.

The schools have different teams throughout the buildings that plan events to encourage positive behavior in students. The schools’ work in PBIS focuses on conditions to support learning by providing positive, predictable and safe environments.

A system of positive behavior support for all students within a school is implemented in areas including the classroom and non-classroom settings such as hallways, buses and restrooms. DeVore said that Conklin monitors and oversees all of that.

Conklin taught for five years in the Marshalltown School District and two years in Peterson at Midwest Christian Services before joining the Charles City district. She also serves as the Charles City Middle School drama director. Her husband, Greg, is a disabled veteran who runs his own gunsmith business from his home in Charles City.