How do we really end school violence? By: Seth Maust

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The nation remains in a state of shock on the heels of yet another school shooting.   The outcry for accountability is severe.  How can these acts of violence still be happening?  The search for solutions has intensified and the demand for schools to “fix this” has reached fever pitch. 

What are our solutions?  The most popular solutions in the media include increased security, armed guards, stricter gun laws, concealed weapons for teachers, reduced violence in media, and better mental health screening. Rather than debating the relevance or absurdity of the solutions listed above, many believe there is a simpler, cheaper, and more proactive approach.

At the core of every person’s success or failure is one thing…a mindset.  The nation has provided record-breaking amounts of professional development and spent billions on accountability metrics to ensure students have opportunities to succeed.  However, we will continue to fail if we focus only on vital core classes but neglect to teach students the most important and basic concepts that will build and shape a healthy mindset.

For the past twelve years, I’ve worked with schools across the country by implementing successful programming specifically geared towards adolescents. 

Our programs are transformational for students!  In the wake of another violent attack on a public school, I urge more schools to adopt programs that specifically target mindsets and non-cognitive skills.  Our programs turn entire classrooms into safe places that challenge and encourage students to talk through difficult topics and develop a positive self-concept.  Our programs help high-ability students go to the next level in their leadership skills as well as engage students who end up self-reporting about thoughts of hurting others (including themselves).

Five Star Life is changing the face of education by changing the mindsets of students and positively impacting the culture inside the school building.  Negative mindsets are the cause of nearly every issue in public schools today.  Five Star Life addresses the root causes of disengaged and underperforming students who struggle in school, thus create a negative culture in classrooms. 

Working with THOUSANDS of students a week, we are attacking the issue of student engagement by focusing programming on academic success, character education, social and emotional learning, and leadership development.

Our fastest growing program includes a video curriculum that engages every student by teaching mindsets that transform them from the inside out. As a result, we have helped schools decrease their discipline referrals by as much as 70%! In addition to discipline referrals, we have helped schools see upward of 80% of their student body raise their GPA or maintain a 3.0 GPA. One particular school said it helped reduce chronic truancy by nearly 80%. Five Star Life Video Curriculum is character education, social and emotional learning, climate building, and peer mentoring, all wrapped into one package.

Five Star Life Video Curriculum includes 33 of the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets and teaches 18 Life Skills through Five Star Life’s Core Values: respect, responsibility, integrity, sacrifice, courage.

THE PROCESS:

The process begins by training administrators, then moves on to faculty. Five Star Life Video Curriculum begins with dynamic professional development for administrators of the program, typically principals and school counselors. The next step involves professional development for faculty. Upon training faculty and administrators, student leaders are identified and selected for training. Upon successful completion of training, the program launches in the school.

The Memorial Health Foundation funded a three-year grant to measure Five Star Life’s impact and found the longer a student participates in Five Star Life the higher their grades rise, the better their school attendance, and the less behavioral problems occur. This year, in partnership with the University of Notre Dame, Five Star Life will be tracking the benefits of Five Star Life Programming, specifically the social and emotional impact on students.

As part of the contract, schools are required to submit data reports. Below is a sampling of data from a variety of different schools and districts:

Schmucker Middle School – Suburban School: 43% decrease in referrals – 302 in 2015 (Q1) to 172 in 2016 (Q1)

Greene Intermediate Center – Urban School: 21% decreases in referrals – 175 in 2015 (Q1) to 138 in 2016 (Q1)

Laker Jr. High School – Rural School: 68% decrease in referrals – 72 in 2015 (Q1) to 23 in 2016 (Q1)

The Crossing, an alternative high school, saw incredible results in their first year of implementation. 70% of all students who participated in Five Star Life Video Curriculum received fewer discipline referrals than the previous semester.

As a nation, we are at a crossroads and we have a choice to make. We can continue down the tumultuous path we are on, or we can take action by implementing programming that positively changes students’ mindsets. By teaching mindset and instilling character values in students, we can begin to get to the root of the problem and change the trajectory of the future for our children.

For more information on how you can bring Five Star Life Video Curriculum to your school, email videocurriculum@fivestarlife.org or call Debby at 574.266.4038.

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