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Peer Mediation Comes to PVHS!
A Message From The Principal

May 15, 2017

Peer Mediation Comes to PVHS

With the dramatic increase in social media use by teenagers, counselors can fill entire days resolving student issues that quickly escalate. Last year, the Assistant Principal and I discussed the benefits of implementing a peer mediation program to reduce discipline issues and decrease severe consequences such as suspensions. As a former teacher, who was trained in peer mediation, I knew that the program did an outstanding job of training students in how to resolve their conflicts while giving students a better understanding of themselves and others. Mediation sessions can bring great insight to the mediator and students in conflict. It gives each person the opportunity to learn valuable lessons in tolerance, patience, and empathy. Mediation sessions also help students to understand the results of their actions because they can hear directly from the person they have harmed. The program also teaches mediators lifelong communication and leadership skills that they can transfer to their everyday lives.

To begin a program at PVHS, we needed some guidance and contacted Mark Weiss of Operation Respect. Once we did some initial planning, we gathered a team of enthusiastic teachers who were passionate about restorative justice and Mark trained them in the protocols of peer mediation. Teachers nominated students who they felt would be good mediators for the program. Teachers chose a wide variety of students who represented all peer groups and age levels. During the winter, we held two days of training. Mark and trainers worked with over 30 students and adults in the strategies of mediation. They practiced the art of good communication i.e. listening attentively, paraphrasing skills, as well as effective questioning techniques. As a result, this spring students participated in two successful mediations that were favorably resolved.

We renewed our commitment to the program with a "Peer Mediation Pizza Kick-Off" in April. Mark reminded students of the mediation process, the importance of empathy, fairness and using good listening and effective questioning to get at the root of the problem. As part of the excitement, we also devoted and designed a unique peer mediation room for the sessions with colorful posters and artwork.

The teachers and students are very enthusiastic about the program and have high hopes for its increased utilization to decrease conflict in our school community. We look forward to training additional students and our incoming freshman next fall.  At PVHS we believe giving students a voice in their school helps to create active citizens who take a role in solving problems in their peer group, in their community, and in their country.

You can listen to an interview with Peer Mediators at Inside Putnam Valley:

http://www.pvcsd.org/streaming/InsidePutnamValley-e33.php

 

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Putnam Valley High School, 146 Peekskill Hollow Road, Putnam Valley, NY 10579
Phone (845) 526-7847, Fax (845) 528-4456