Dedicated to strengthening their district’s vision “to create a culture of collaborative learning focusing on the whole child ensuring success in the global community,” Murfreesboro City Schools (MFCS) has been implementing RTI2-A + RTI2-B in three pilot schools. As a part of this process, the District Leadership Team (DLT) created an RTI2-A + RTI2-B Annual Implementation Plan that aligns with their district’s current goals. The MFCS District Leadership Team is currently supporting three committed pilot schools which are currently shining as strong implementors: Black Fox Elementary, Hobgood Elementary, and Overall Creek Elementary.

Check out some examples of their steps to align academics and behavior below:

Black Fox Elementary and Hobgood Elementary

Black Fox Elementary focuses on their wide range of student needs. The principal, Tiffany Strevel, is actively supporting the use of academic and behavioral data for problem-solving. Jessica Codispoti, a third-grade teacher, created a digital data notebook that enables access to academic and behavioral data during problem-solving meetings. The Digital Data Notebook includes reading, math, science, attendance, behavior, and SRSS-IE (universal behavior screener) data in one place. The School Leadership Team is taking meaningful steps to ensure all key collaborators are informed and engaged in the process.

At Hobgood Elementary, principal Quinena Bell supports the school’s efforts to meet the various needs of their students by also using Digital Notebooks and the Problem-Solving Process in Tier I meetings. They recently launched an attendance store for parents and families. The parents earn attendance bucks for every day their child is at school on time. The bucks are redeemed at the store for basic household items like detergent, paper towels, etc.

Both Hobgood Elementary and Black Fox Elementary incorporate a weekly planning message emailed to faculty to support RTI2-A + RTI2-B instructional preparation. Kristi Knitter, who serves as the School Counselor at both sites, shared the following quote:

“We use a weekly plan for teaching our social-emotional and behavioral system to all students that includes a standard for the week from the American School Counselor Association Mindsets and Behaviors and a Habit of the Mind standard from our STEAM instructional practices. We find that many of these standards support each other and support components of our curriculum across all grade levels and aid in teaching academic standards. Many of these SEL and behavioral learning targets are revisited and reviewed during Tier I instruction. The use of a common planning tool allows us to develop a common language across the building.”

Kristi Knitter

School Counselor, Hobgood Elementary and Black Fox Elementary

Sample Weekly Planning Message

Week of October 24, 2022

ASCA Standard – M 2. Sense of acceptance, respect, support and inclusion for self and others in the school environment  

Habit of the Mind – Remain Open to Continuous Learning


  • Ask, “What is bullying?” See definition to help with answers.
  • Ask, “What is the difference between bullying and rough play?” Emphasize that bullying is repeated and on purpose, hurtful, and has a weaker party.
  • Ask, “Is teasing bullying, how can teasing turn into bullying, and what can you do if you know about bullying behavior?” Emphasize the importance of telling two adults (one at home and one at school).


  • Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
  • The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill
  • Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell
  • Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry


Examples of School Supports for Teaching all Students Behaviorally and Academically:

Overall Creek Elementary

Overall Creek Elementary, led by principal Don Bartch, joined as the third pilot school with a strong foundation of implementing RTI2-A +RTI2-B in place. Prior to partnering with the grant, the school had engaged in the alignment of team structures and the use of data to support the wide range of student needs. Stephanie Van Winkle, the School Counselor at Overall Creek, shared highlights for this year. She said, “We focus on a character trait each month during the school year. This year, we have been more intentional in making sure the teachers have materials to cover the trait in class meetings. For kindness month, we worked on a schoolwide service project, a food drive, that directly impacted other students in our school district.”

Stephanie Van Winkle also explained, “Students following schoolwide expectations receive otter paws (purple and yellow tickets). These are added to the otter paw tube, and when the tube is full the entire school is rewarded. Our students have responded in such a positive way to going back to a tangible otter paw ticket after using dojo points to represent the otter paws during Covid. For December, they earned 12,472 otter paws! That is a lot of recognizing positive behavior, but we know it is working because our ODRs are significantly lower than in previous years.”

We are excited to see how these pilot schools, with the support of their District Leadership Team, continue to strengthen Tier I instruction that aligns academics and behavior. Way to go Murfreesboro City Schools!