CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Out-of-school suspensions decreased at Guyandotte Elementary School by 90 percent from 2010 to 2011.
Guyandotte Principal Martha Evans says that's all because her staff made an effort to build better relationships with students -- a simple, but key factor that's missing in many schools and causing discipline issues across the state, she said.
"It's all about relationships. It's about teaching the kids what your expectations are -- kids want to do what you want them to do. You have to care enough to say, 'I'm not telling you this to chew you out, I'm telling you this so that you can succeed,'" Evans said.
"And when they understand that you believe in them and that you love them, they'll do anything for you." she said.
"Then you intervene when they mess up. That might mean bringing parents in or it might just mean a hand on the shoulder to say 'Honey, we don't run in the hall.' Often, that does it."
Evans helped lead a Safe and Supportive Schools class last week at Capital High School, where nearly 300 teachers from across the state attended professional development workshops.
The week of activities marked the launch of the West Virginia Center for Professional Development summer schedule.
The Safe and Supportive Schools program focuses on proactive approaches to ensure schools provide a safe and engaging learning environment.
Evans spoke to a group of teachers from Greenbrier and Webster counties Wednesday about implementing preventative methods, and the importance of analyzing school data in order to identify problems.