by The Hawbridge School Counselor, Emily Martin (pictured on right, above)
Teachers have a lot on their plate. You’ve heard that before, right? They should be experts in their fields and know how to teach their content in clear and meaningful ways. They work well over the 40 hour week and know how to teach to diverse learners–both in terms of demographics and differences in learning abilities. They should know how to de-escalate tense discussions and empathize with situations that students go through at home. The list goes on, and then there’s always the reminder somewhere in the back of our minds (probably a remnant of the literature we read in education school) that we need to be proactive in our approach. In other words, we need to identify issues that could happen and put things in place to prevent them. Who has time for what-ifs?!
In the fall of 2017, Ms. Osborne invited me to the Peaceful Schools conference that was happening at Duke University one Saturday. Peaceful Schools is an organization that empowers schools to create their own healthy learning environments. It is not prescriptive, but based on the needs of an individual school. I begrudgingly agreed to give up my Saturday to drive the hour to Durham and meet with educators from across the state. I felt both overwhelmed and at home in my experiences throughout the day.
Then, Ms. Osborne pulled me into another Peaceful Schools event this past spring. We had the opportunity to spend a full day in a Peaceful School to experience what this looked like in practice. We visited Central Park School for Children and Carter Community Charter, both located in Durham. We met and talked with students and faculty at these schools, and at the end of the day, processed our experiences with an intimate group of educators. A question was posed: “What’s standing in the way of your school becoming a Peaceful School?” I couldn’t come up with anything other than: “Me.” As educators, we don’t have time to come up for air. It’s hard to add on to what we are already doing, but Ms. Osborne and I knew that we wanted to be a part of this inspiring community.
If you haven’t already figured it out, The Hawbridge School principal, Ms. Ciccotti, is incredibly supportive. I shyly brought up the idea of partnering with Peaceful Schools, thinking that like me, she would sigh and come up with an excuse as to why we didn’t have time for that. Instead, she asked me to introduce the idea to faculty, which then led to a meeting with members of the Peaceful Schools Advisory Committee. We were able to pinpoint some key areas for improvement, and I’m excited to say that we will have the privilege of working with Peaceful Schools over the course of the 2019-2020 school year. This week, our faculty will be discussing conflict resolution, specifically, and you’ll also have the opportunity to hear a little bit more from Peaceful Schools directly at our Back to School Nights.
As our mission statement references, learning is a lifelong process. Sometimes we have to admit that we don’t know everything. As always, I am so grateful to work at a school that supports healthy growth for students and staff. I look forward to seeing the ways in which Peaceful Schools further enriches our learning environment.
For more info: peacefulschoolsnc.org