Pupils resolve to solve problems with mediation


February 01, 2002|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE TRAINING OF elementary pupils to be peacemakers is the goal of a conflict management program at Mount Airy Elementary School.

The pilot program has trained 20 fourth- and fifth-graders to become peer mediators.

Conflict managers have helped mediate pupils' arguments that resulted in name-calling, bullying and shoving incidents.

"If [pupils] fight back then they're in for disciplinary action themselves. We want them to know they don't have to always fight back or just take it," said Ann Horner, Mount Airy Elementary guidance counselor. "There is a way they can handle it in a peaceful manner."

Similar programs have been in place in middle and high schools, but only a few elementary schools in Carroll County offer conflict mediation.

Horner modeled her program after Mount Airy Middle School's peer mediation program. Candidates to become mediators had to submit an application, which included a self-evaluation checklist and required three teacher references.

Pupils attended three morning training sessions during the summer to learn how to implement a four-step mediation plan: setting ground rules, getting the story, brainstorming for solutions and writing and signing an agreement.

"I wanted to do it to help other people," said Maddi Maynes, a fifth-grader at Mount Airy Elementary. "I wanted to be like my Mom, who's a social worker, and Mrs. Horner ... to help other people solve their problems."

Pupils can obtain conflict mediation by submitting a written request or having a teacher or school administrator refer them.

"If they've filled out a form, then they have already cooled down and are in the thinking state rather than the emotional state," Horner said.

The pilot program was designed to serve fourth- and fifth-graders but pupils of all ages have benefited.

Horner said school administrators and teachers would evaluate the program's effectiveness and make a decision whether to continue it next year.

"Kids are trained to be peacemakers among themselves. It's more than I even hoped for," Horner said.

Valentine's dance

A Valentine's dance is set for Feb. 9 at the Winfield fire hall. The dance is one of the major fund-raisers for Winfield Volunteer Fire Department's Ladies Auxiliary.

A disc jockey will provide music. Hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be provided. The dance will include raffles and door prizes.

Tickets are $15.

Information and reservations: Becky Ruchman, 410-549-2369 or 410-795-2496.

VA mobile clinic

The Veterans Affairs Mobile Health Care Clinic will be at Mount Airy Senior Center from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Feb. 14 and 28.

Lesa Jansen's Southwest neighborhood column appears each Friday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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