| Program: || Partners in Peer Mediation: A Collaborative for Safe Harris County Schools, Harris County, TX |
| Contact(s): || Dr. Ellen Harrison, Director of Staff Development: (713) 694-6300 |
| Purpose: || To institutionalize peaceful methods of resolving personal conflict in schools |
Partners in Peer Mediation (PPM) started in 1994 as a collaborative effort among the Harris County Department of Education, the Houston Bar Association, the South Texas College of Law Center for Legal Responsibility, the Dispute Resolution Center of Houston, the county government, and others. The goal is to bring the best techniques on peaceful conflict resolution and peer mediation to the 720 Harris County public schools, some with enrollments of 80 to 90 percent Hispanic and African American students. The PPM program enables educators to tailor their training to the racial and cultural needs of their schools.
Sanctioned by the Texas Senate and the standards developed by the National Association for Mediation in Education (formerly N.A.M.E.), the Partners in Peer Mediation obtained formal agreements with each school in the county to introduce the program to their student body. Fliers are sent to each of the 720 school in Harris County announcing the dates for teacher/staff training. Program participants receive a two-day training session on conflict mediation and guidance on how to implement the program curriculum into their classroom setting. Trained teachers and staff then return to their schools and select students to be trained as mediators. Volunteers, which are professionals from the legal community, assist in the student training. Once students receive the training they act as peer conflict mediators. Students learn ways to resolve conflict, the importance of confidentiality-neutrality, and how to help disputants brainstorm solutions. The students learn how to diffuse conflict based on cultural differences and bridge racial gaps by using constructive dialogues.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
Since the program's inception, over 2,000 students and 500 teachers have received initial conflict-resolution training. The Partners in Peer Mediation program won the 1996 Leadership Houston Award in the youth category, and it won the Volunteers Award in Public Schools for Houston Independent School District's Northwest District.