A Q&A with Kristen Peterson on the Peacemaker Program and Soul Shoppe
The Peacemaker Program at Green Valley is led by Kristen Petersen, our Assistant Principal/T.S.A. The T.S.A. position is funded by your generous donations to The Learning Fund.
Kristen, please tell us about the Peacemaker Program you have rolled out.
The Peacemaker Program provides a safer school environment for our children.
The Peacemaker Program is provided by Soul Shoppe. Soul Shoppe supports school communities by providing interactive programs and tools that teach students powerful learning and life skills. In addition to working with students, they also support staff by creating and facilitating dynamic staff development trainings that give teachers the necessary tools to implement academic and personal growth.
This valuable program has three components:
First, we have school wide assemblies put on by Soul Shoppe, where our students are taught valuable character building and conflict resolution skills.
Secondly, this program selects 30 students (grades 3- 5) to take the role of campus peacemakers for the school year. These Peacemakers are taught a variety of skills in a three-part training that include:
• “I” Messages: the essential communication tool
• “The Clean Up”: taking students beyond, “I’m sorry”
• "Stop & Breathe”: an important decision making and de-escalation skill
• Teamwork: through several activities, students will learn the value of working together
• Leadership: peacemakers learn about their role as leaders in their community
The Peacemakers work 1-5 grade recess and are there to assist and guide the students through any conflicts that may occur.
Thirdly, after completing staff development training, teachers have class meetings which are held at least once a week to provide an outlet for kids to express both positive and negative feelings.
What makes the Peacemaker Program different than other conflict resolution programs?
Peacemaker focuses on student lead resolution practices by supporting student to student interaction rather than always having the adult guide the conflict resolution process.
What are the benefits to our students?
Students benefit from a safer school environment. In the assemblies, the students are taught valuable character building and conflict resolution skills. They are encouraged to express concerns and issues that may arise at recess, in the classroom, etc. The Peacemakers are there to assist and guide the students through any conflicts that may occur. Class meetings are held at least once a week and provide a safe environment where teachers encourage students to use the language they learn in the assemblies.
How are the kids responding to the Peacemaker Program?
The kids have been very responsive. The program is teaching the students that there are alternative ways to deal with problems rather than arguing or fighting. Taking a few moments to take a step back, breathe, and work through the issue, has been effective in many instances.
A “Peace Path,” a step by step conflict resolution process, has been painted out on the playground to help guide the students through conflicts. Many of the kids having walked the “Peace Path” with our Peacemakers, and resolved issues that may have grown into bigger problems had they not been dealt with.
How many kids do you reach with this program?
It reaches all the kids.
Peacemakers are scheduled to work recess for grades 1-5, so these students are exposed to the Peace Path and assistance from the Peacemakers if issues arise.
All students K-5, attend the assemblies, learning the tools and skills associated with conflict resolution. In addition, teachers are holding class meetings and use the same vocabulary in the classrooms as we use out on the playground.
Do you have tips you could share for parents to use at home?
Yes! Building the bridge between home and school with this program was one of our priorities from the start.
Now that we have the program up and running at school, we are holding a “Family Night” on Tuesday, February 1st @ 6:30pm. A Soul Shoppe facilitator will be here to work with families (kids included) to provide meaningful tips and tools that will mirror those that are being used at school. It will be an interactive workshop and a wonderful way to make sure we’re all on the same page and working towards the same goals.
Parents can also check out the Soul Shoppe website at: www.soulshoppe.com.