STRIVE! New Program Aids in Conflict Resolution For Students

Central Valley students and educators have launched a new discipline program that is changing their schools for the better. STRIVE, a program through Merced County Office of Education, harnesses the power of conflict resolution to work with students and teachers to cut down on suspensions and keep students in class. When a problem arises, students are handed a form that sets up a mediation process as well as a behavior intervention plan. STRIVE, which stands for Safe Trust Respect Inspiration Vision and Encouragement, has seen a 60% reduction in documented discipline cases, with full-day home suspension down 63% than last year. Instead of being sent home, students attend ‘in-house’ suspension classes in school. The programs serve students who are on probation or who have been expelled from their regular schools – traditionally a group who are at extreme risk of failing to graduate.

According to a story in the Merced Sun Star, this new program gives students a voice in the discipline process and holds them accountable for their behaviors in a constructive way, while focusing on keeping them in school and restoring and rebuilding relationships with their teachers. Educators say the program is working:

Michael Richter, principal of Valley Community School in Los Banos, said the program sets the tone at his campus for students and staff.

“The program sets high expectations for everyone and holds them accountable as well,” Richter said.

[Merced Assistant Superintendent Holly] Newlon said parents want their children to be successful and stay in school. Where there is consistency, she said, students exhibit more positive behavior patterns and can be successful.

“It’s better students are in school learning rather than out of school and not learning,” Newlon said. “In the end it will really pay off. Teachers and students are working together to resolve the conflict. Students have lots of opportunities to make things right.”

Frank Zarate, an English teacher at Valley Community School in Merced, said the resolution process can take from one class period to five days depending on the severity of the offense. And there may be a delay if the student is unwilling to work with the teacher.

Read more about STRIVE from an article in Merced Sun-Star.

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