On the edge of Presentation back playground, you will frequently see students looking intently at the ground while walking slowly in pairs. The students are using the school’s unique new Peace Path, a physical model of how conflict resolution works, aimed at elementary and middle school students.
The Peace Path came to Presentation via school counselor Jane Mertens who first heard of it being used at an elementary school in Tiburon. She ordered the stencils for the brightly colored painted pathway from www.soulshoppe.com, an online resource for educators that provides access to a variety of tools and ideas for helping students get along. It was installed in a single afternoon by a group of parent volunteers.
The Peace Path is painted onto a flat concrete surface with colorful footprints to stand on while working through the stages of conflict resolution using different phrases found to be most useful in promoting empathy and compromise.
Says Presentation Director Nancy Warich-Fischman, “It wasn’t that Presentation students were having issues in this area, it is a close knit school community, it was more than we wanted to provide students with a step by step physical demonstration of the process of talking through a problem and working it out. Particularly in light of the current global environment of conflict, the earlier children can learn the valuable life skill of empathy, tolerance and compromise, the better.”
Adds Mertens, “I love it when I see the younger kids just ‘playing’ on it and pretending to have a problem that they are working out. They are learning a very valuable life skill while having fun!” The steps to conflict resolution allow children to say how they are feeling, followed by listening to how others feel. It also provides the opportunity to "brainstorm solutions," a valuable tool in learning how to problem solve.
Says 2nd grader Matthew Dierking, “I like the Peace Path because it is kind of like playing parts in a play but somehow in the end you feel much better if you were mad at someone.”