Anchoring Student Success: Improving a School's Climate and Culture
"Anchoring Student Success: Improving a School's Climate & Culture" highlights how the implementation of school-based initiatives has positively impacted the climate and culture of Huntington High School based in Shreveport, Louisiana. The school-based Teen Court model was implemented to aid school leaders in taking proactive steps to address students' minor disciplinary infractions before they escalate into major incidences. The court is a restorative justice approach to discipline. Its success is built on holding students accountable while assisting them with the tools to make better choices. This session will demonstrate the steps for implementation of a school-based Teen Court and highlight intervention services including peer-led mentoring, tutoring, and mediation services that have been birthed from the program model. The school has seen a significant reduction in discipline amongst the students served by the court. Over a two year period, disciplinary referrals dropped by 17%.
Cindy Deck has been teaching secondary social studies in Caddo Parish for sixteen years and has been the school-based Peer Court Coordinator since its inception in 2017. She has a Bachelor's degree in history with a Master's in Educational Leadership. Ms. Deck has also been a volunteer with community-based Teen Court for the past eleven years and has seen the effects of the restorative approach firsthand. She has served as a consultant to other schools seeking to implement the peer court model. She has been recognized as the 2021-22 Huntington High School Teacher of the Year.
Shonda Houston-Dotie has served as the Youth Programs Director for the non-profit, Volunteers for Youth Justice, for the past twenty-five years. In that capacity, she has worked to provide restorative justice programming for court-involved youth. She has also implemented prevention and intervention programs for schools including Teen Court, Conflict Resolution, and Leadership Academies. She holds a Bachelor and Master's degree in Criminal Justice and has served as a consultant to school districts and juvenile court systems for the implementation of the Teen Court model.
Dr. Matthew Mitchell , a resident of Shreveport, Louisiana, has been serving students for 16 years in Caddo Parish Public Schools. Dr. Mitchell served as Principal at Fair Park Middle School for two years, which was the first school in Louisiana to implement the peer court program. Most recently, he has been serving as the Principal of Huntington High School. At Huntington, there have been double digit gains in School Performance scores, as well as an increase in student enrollment. He is the Louisiana State Semi-finalist for Principal of the Year.