What's it like to come home from prison? Are your relatives glad to see you? Community Mediation Maryland, a conflict resolution program, says one session of pre-release mediation between an inmate and relatives can reduce potential conflicts and increase the chance for a successful homecoming.
Queen Anne's County Public Schools (QACPS), one of the highest ranked school systems in the State, has asked Community Mediation Upper Shore (CMUS) to assist them in working with the most chronically absent students to help determine what the causes of their absenteeism is and identify what types of support they or their family might need to overcome their issues. Initially this program will focus on the Sudlersville Elementary and Middle schools as well as the county high school.
CMUS, in 2013-2014, played a significant role in helping Kent County schools achieve minimum State attendance standards. According to Superintendent Couch in a recent interview, this was the first time in its history these levels have been reached
Penni Walker Doyle, CMUS Executive Director, and Gordon English, CMUS Board Chairman, met with the QACPS Student Services staff prior to the start of the school year to outline the program, which will use a combination of Mediation sessions, interaction with school guidance counselors and involvement with other agencies as the situation warrants. They also attended the initial staff meeting of the elementary school educators to explain the program to them.
Following the meetings Mr. English said: “It’s so invigorating to be involved with a school system that truly cares so much for each individual student. Statistically this school system benefits little from improved attendance of a small number of students but, as we learned last year, students with severe attendance issues often have problems that extend beyond the school walls. These students want to go to school, and are often capable of good academic achievement, but due to situations beyond their control, have to deal with things that interfere with that. Once those are addressed, in the overwhelming majority of cases they achieve high attendance rates and good grades. It’s no surprise that the QAPS system is as good as it is. When the system as a whole cares about the success of every student, it can’t help but create a culture among the entire staff that reflects the same attitude, from the administrators to the classroom teachers. We at CMUS are honored to be part of their program.”
Using the training provided by Community Mediation Maryland in Conflict Resolution for Youth, Community Mediation Upper Shore is using the training materials to teach a 7.5 hour course to youths from 8 to 18 who have been charged with level 2 or 3 assault or related crimes. Using this type of program to help prevent future incidents involving the attendees was the brainchild of Guilia Hodge, a Supervisor for DJS/Cecil County and is taught by Gordon English of CMUS.
The course is taught on 3 consecutive Tuesdays, for 2.5 hours each day. It covers recognizing what anger is, it’s various levels, how it impacts how we act and people’s perceptions of us in the first session, recognizing and understanding our and others feelings when angry, and how to satisfy those feelings for both sides in the second session, followed by how to communicate with those who are either angry with you or don’t understand what you are trying to say in the final session. The first class began in September and the plan is to continue classes through December, refining the presentation as necessary to provide the maximum benefit to the attendees.