POLACCA, Ariz. — Hopi Jr/Sr High School Dean of Students Charlene Youvella wants a positive behavior program in place that would help students make better decisions, including staying away from drugs and alcohol.
“We need a change in the mindset to have more positive behaviors in the school setting,” she said.
Youvella would like Hopi Jr/Sr High School to use Positive Behavioral Intervention (PBI). This is a national schoolwide system which uses practical strategies to help students.
Youvella said her first three weeks on the job were full of discipline issues from the time she walked in until after hours.
“I want to cover all the areas with parents and speak with the students to help them understand that there are consequences,” she said.
After three weeks on the job, there were incidents with alcohol and marijuana, two for marijuana and one for alcohol. There were more problems with insubordination, bullying and tardies. She refers many of these cases to Michael Adams, director of psychological services.
“The students need to be aware that their behavior is an act of bullying and we need to help the victim with counseling if need be,” she said.
Youvella said she is thrilled to become dean of students because it is a new responsibility for her after more than 17 years of serving as a teacher. She also taught at First Mesa Elementary School.
“As dean of students, I will get to see the operations of the school from a different level,” she said.
Youvella said her first priority is to analyze the school’s discipline policies for effectiveness. Her second goal is to create a positive behavior plan. Her third goal is to have a supportive line of communications with the parents.
“I would like to have a network of parents to work with who can provide me with input to help with a positive program,” she said. “It’s important to have input from the communities. It’s valuable because of the cultural impacts we can have.”
Youvella said she is interested in learning at the tribal level what the expectations are for student behaviors and all aspects of the behavioral program.
While teaching at Hopi Junior High, Youvella served 15 years with the advanced education team, working with school improvement for several schools.
“I was able to work with many superintendents and principals. They all became my mentors while we were evaluating schools,” she said.
Youvella said her measure of success would be seeing that the school is organizing, in a systemic way, to see that the schools protocols and procedures are followed.
“We’ll be successful once the departments can recognize those protocols right away,” she said.
Youvella said the best part of her job is when she sees students she taught while at the school as a teacher.
“I taught the majority of the upperclassmen. Most have been respectful. They recognize that I’m demanding, but consistent,” she said. “I will be upfront with my expectations of student behavior in the hall and in the classroom.”
Youvella said the students who didn’t know her have been surprised they could communicate with her.
“Coming back to Hopi Jr/Sr High School was like coming home. I had a lot of great years here with prior administrators,” she said.
Youvella credits former Superintendent Paul Reynolds, and former Principals Glenn Gilman, David Herbert, Albert Sinquah and Glenn Haven, with taking the time to teach her about education.
“They shared their knowledge and provided guidance through all school activities,” she said. “Their leadership played a key role in inspiring me to take a leadership position.”
Youvella began college as a business major, but decided that wasn’t for her. She happened to see children having a good time on a playground, which is when she decided to transfer to education.
“I had to start all over,” she said.
Youvella earned an associate degree in banking and finance at Mesa Community College before switching over. She then earned a bachelor of arts in elementary education from Arizona State University before getting a master of arts in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University.