by Dr. Carole
G. Hankin with Randi
as long as history, there have been wars and conflicts. More
recently we have witnessed anger and conflict in children
who have changed schools from formerly safe havens to places
where they often feel threatened.
Syosset Schools, we have had programs to teach our students
how to get along with one another for some time. This year
we have expanded these programs at both ends of the student
population. In Syosset High School, we now have a four-year
Peer Leadership program. Students can enter the program at
any time, or they can begin in ninth grade as “Peer Helpers” (our
newest addition to the program) and continue through grade
twelve. A program within our Health curriculum, these students—who
must obtain teacher recommendations—are trained in how to mediate
conflicts between peers or even groups of people with opposing
views. An important component of this program has been visits
to elementary schools, where they hold sessions on bullying
and conflict resolution with classes in grades three and four.
This has been an enormous success and this year we have decided
to expand the program throughout the District to teach peer
mediation to our older elementary students.
had the opportunity to attend the initial meeting of one of
our elementary school’s newly formed peer mediator groups.
This school has named its program PEACE CHATS (Peer Educators
Acting on Conflicts Effectively, Chatting About Thoughtful
Solutions). At their meeting, the principal told the fifteen
students in fourth and fifth grade that they were chosen because
they have shown themselves to be responsible, fair, good listeners,
and good school citizens.
student was given a certificate and a button to wear to let
their fellow students know that the program is now in operation.
Before they can assume the role of mediators, they will all
participate in a program of training. Together, they will learn
how to communicate, different approaches to problem solving,
and how to apply their critical thinking skills during the
students were very excited about their new responsibilities,
and full of ideas on how they could promote peaceful conflict
resolution among their peers. They plan to create and display
inspirational posters and to design a board game that will
teach younger students the right steps to take in finding a
peaceful and acceptable solution to a conflict between friends
Peer Mediators will be working both outside during recess and
inside in the PEACE CHATS Mediation Center that has been set
up in one of the school’s classrooms. It was great to see the
enthusiastic response that the students, teachers, and administrators
have to this new program. It should be noted that the introduction
of our Peer Mediation program is not a reaction to an increase
in conflict in our schools. We are fortunate to be in a community
that supports our children and has elected a forward thinking
and proactive Board of Education. But the issue of conflict
resolution is one that we can never be complacent about. We
are starting with our youth to create leaders who will help
maintain peace in our schools and in this world.#
Hankin is superintendent of Syosset Central School District.
Randi Sachs is Public Information Officer of Syosset Schools.
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