To help create a more peaceful world, the mission of PeaceMaker Minnesota is to help schools be safer places, free from bullying and harassment, and to help youth learn positive relational skills like empathy, respect, cooperation and how to resolve conflicts peacefully.

 

Last month, we received this email from Little Mountain Elementary principal, Gabe Hackett:

“I wanted to pass along this email to you to keep you in the loop of how our PeaceMaker partnership continues to make an impact on our students. Nichole has redesigned our Peer Mediation program to offer more immediate help on the playground…”

Nichole Rengel is the school social worker. The program she designed puts 4th and 5th grade students on the playground as Peer Mediators to help other kids problem-solve, give support, and mediate situations during recess.

The 16 student mediators use knowledge on the mediation process that they learned from Second Step lessons, an evidence-based, social-emotional learning program that they implemented with help from PeaceMaker.

Recess is a place where students report bullying and conflict concerns are occurring the most,” says Nichole. “The mediator's role at recess is to help support students that are having a conflict during a game or peer relationship. They are not solving their problem, but giving each student an opportunity to share their feelings, then work to solve the problem together.

The program is still new, and some kids aren’t quite sure how to react to peers as mentors. Even so, Nichole finds the model promising. “This model empowers the mediators to lead,” she says. It gives them an opportunity to lead without an adult telling them how to handle each step of the process and then step back to discuss what isn't going well and what we can do to make it better.”

And, the students’ stories give her hope: “Hearing the mediators disclose small victories in what they are doing to help students is a great start!” 

 

November 22, 2019