University of Maryland and Calverton Middle School Partnership, Baltimore City, Karyn Weeks and Jennifer Willis
1100 Peace (12 trained student mediators, 5 individuals from the University of Maryland, and various school staff serving as Peace Ambassadors)
Butterfly ‘Peace’ Garden
1100 Peace is a conflict mediation program that provides students with the opportunity to discuss a problem with one another in an effort to find a peaceful solution. The program is facilitated by 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students who are trained mediators.
Best Practice 1: What recognized community need was met by your project (e.g. health, education, environmental or public safety need)?
The issue our project addressed was public safety. Our school has a high suspension rate for various offenses, and after seeing the need for additional support for students during the 2007 school year, the 1100 Peace program was created over the summer with a collaboration of students, Calverton Staff, and the Center for School Mental Health (CSMH of the University of Maryland) representatives.
Focus groups session results and examining data from the previous school years helped us identify this need. The project benefits the entire Calverton School community.
Best Practice 2: How was the project connected to school curriculum (e.g. what course outcomes were met and/or how did the project reinforce or enhance student academic learning)?
This project was not completed by one classroom or one area of the school. It was designed to involve students across the elementary & middle school as participants, with 6th, 7th, and 8th graders trained as mediators. The project explores and reinforces:
- The student code of conduct
- Character and citizenship skill development
- Students rights & responsibilities
- Classroom expectations and the school mission
- It also encouraged teachers to recognize co-workers who supported peaceful resolution of conflict (Peace Keeper of the Month) and included monthly contests/interactive activities to support a positive school culture.
Best Practice 3: How did you reflect on your experience throughout the project?
Students participating in mediation completed pre/post questionnaires & mediators completed reflection forms after each mediation, giving the mediators and students involved in the conflict the opportunity to process and reflect on what had taken place. Student mediators were also required to attend monthly morning meetings to discuss the program, plan additional activities, and address questions/concerns that may have arisen. It gave the whole group time to come together and share common experiences.
Best Practice 4: How did students take leadership roles and take responsibility for the success of the project?
Students committed to monthly meetings and set standards and expectations for remaining in the program (examples: no multiple suspensions and a need to pass academic classes, etc.). Students volunteered to be paired with a Peace Ambassador (teachers involved in the program) and updated them about the program and meetings.
Other projects were also planned by the 1100 Peace students beyond the original scope of the program. To create a welcoming space for teachers and staff to connect the various parts of the large school, 1100 Peace students transformed part of the teacher’s resource room in to a staff lounge, finding donations for furniture, decorations, and painting a peace mural on the wall. A butterfly ‘peace’ garden was also created in front of the school building, in which 1100 Peace students worked closely with the student gardening club, and Civic Works (an Americorps program in Baltimore). When activities were scheduled, such as holiday parties, the students took on the responsibility of planning the activity, creating invitations and coordinating interactive games and activities. A Peace Mobile was developed for the Peace Keeper of the month award, filled with school supplies and classroom activities for the winning teacher.
Best Practice 5: What community partners did you work with on this project (e.g. non-profits, civic organizations, business that provided donations, etc.)?
- University of Maryland – Center for School Mental Health
- Civic Works (in the creation of a butterfly ‘peace’ garden in front of the school)
Best Practice 6: How did you prepare and plan ahead for the project?
To carry out this project, a partnership was created with the Center for School Mental Health, and meetings and professional development training were held. This was a collaborative effort. Students attended mediation training, monthly morning meetings, and weekly ‘office hours’ where they worked in the 1100 Peace room planning activities, delivering the Peace Mobile to the teacher of the month, redecorating the bulletin board, or preparing for schoolwide monthly activities with fliers and overhead announcements. These are some of the tasks that were completed when there were no referrals for mediation requests.
Best Practice 7: What knowledge and skills did students develop through this project?
- Skills to address conflict
- Role Modeling
- Positive Communication
- Positive social skills