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Pastor Bowers works alongside Coshocton students

| April 11, 2018

Pastor Christy Bowers is pictured in the background watching students participate in an activity on one of her visits to Coshocton Elementary School. Contributed | Beacon

COSHOCTON – When Grace United Methodist Church Associate Pastor Christy Bowers moved to Coshocton last summer she knew she wanted to reach out into the community beyond the walls of her church.

“Churches often do hat and mitten trees or help with school supplies, but I really wanted to partner with the school and became an ally for them and the students,” she said.

Bowers found the opportunity she was looking for when she asked at Coshocton Elementary School how she could help and was told about the PBIS (Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports) program, which is also known as the Real Redskin program.

“It’s a program they have there that rewards positive behavior,” she said. “Every time they get caught doing this they get a ticket for a monthly drawing. A women’s group here at the church provided a check to get the prizes for the children.”

Shannon Folkert, the PBIS team leader at the school, said the program is state mandated.

“We look for the positive behaviors we want to see in students and reinforce those with positive consequences,” she said.

The PBIS team meets with students once a week and Bowers comes in one time a month for the drawing and character building lessons.

“I’ve seen big changes in the kids,” she said. “A lot of them just want to be loved unconditionally and are looking for adults to do that, but still hold them accountable. They will run up to me now and are excited to see me.”

Folkert said Bowers sees every student in the school and they all seem very engaged in her activities.

“Some say it’s their favorite class,” Folkert said. “This is our third year for PBIS. It was put in place in schools to combat the bullying that was being seen and as a way to encourage behaviors you want to see and eliminate the one you don’t. We are seeing more positives and less negatives. We want people to feel good at school and know that it’s a safe place.”

It’s also an opportunity for Bowers to show students that church isn’t just about sitting in pews on Sunday.

“It’s about loving each other and being there for each other,” Bowers said.

In addition to her work at the elementary school she also is at Coshocton High School on Thursdays to help out with Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings.

“I grew up in the church, but I had some rough years as a teen and know where these kids can be coming from,” Bowers said. “I didn’t have a relationship with Christ until I was older so I want to help them to know about God. I’ll meet them where they are at in this journey.”

She is thankful for the opportunity to work with the schools and the students and hopes to be able to continue with the programs next year.

“I want to work alongside them and support them,” Bowers said.

Coshocton Elementary School Counselor Laura Grogro attends Bowers’ church and was happy to see her want to take an active role with students.

“She is awesome,” Grogro said. “She is an excellent pastor and just as good with the kiddos. They love her.”

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    Category: Education

    Josie Sellers

    About the Author ()

    I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!