Author Archive

Positive Discipline – Unity’s Unique Learning Environment

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Positive Discipline, Whole Child Education

By Teresa LaSala IMG_4579

Unity Charter School is a unique learning environment in which positive discipline is a core component in our daily curriculum and embedded in all aspects of the community beginning with administration then filtering through to staff, students and families.

Unity’s charter was written based on the Adlerian principles of discipline. Positive Discipline, an international Adlerian research based program, teaches the importance of belonging and significance, respect for all people, encouragement, strategies for reducing misbehavior, and the development of problem solving and communication skills for students and staff. This is done experientially and in a manner that is respectful to both adults and children.

Positive Discipline workshops and materials provide teachers with specific lessons, for implementation into daily curriculum, to use with students, to teach social and emotional life skills and healthy self-discipline. Positive Discipline is based on the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline teaches. Teachers report they enjoy teaching more because Positive Discipline promotes respect, better discipline throughout their schools and classrooms and invites greater cooperation from all involved, thereby enhancing school climate, providing more teaching time and improved academic outcomes.

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We strive to address each student as an individual and consider the importance of educating the “whole child”. We have multi-age classes to best meet the social, emotional, and academic needs of all students. In addition, multi-age activities are integrated into our weekly schedule to encourage collaboration amongst students of all ages. Using Positive Discipline daily, in both school-wide and class meetings, we foster a peaceful culture based on embracing diversity. We approach all aspects of discipline with a focus on solutions. We want to empower the students to resolve conflicts through mutual respect, the wheel of choice, and effective communication in seeking a win-win situation for all. Our student-run Democratic Governance encourages students to have a voice and take on leadership roles. Our goal is to educate capable, confident, life-long learners and productive citizens of our world.

The following are additional examples of Unity’s implementation of Positive Discipline:

  • Student generated Code of Conduct
  • Class created guidelines
  • Older students facilitating Positive Discipline experiential activities with younger students
  • Student led parent/student/teacher conferences
  • Peer mediation program
  • Student led Interest Groups
  • Active Positive Discipline team available during school hours

In an effort to unify the community in understanding and applying the philosophies of Positive Discipline, free workshops are offered to parents throughout the year and additional ongoing training and education classes are available for registration. A five session, Positive Discipline “Follow Up” class is being offered through Unity beginning in January. Registration details and costs are available in the weekly Unity Digest or may be provided by contacting the main office.

About the Author:

Teresa LaSala, a Certified Positive Discipline Author, Facilitator and Lead Trainer, provides training, consultation and supportive services in public, private, charter and parochial schools throughout the United States and internationally. She served for 8 years as a member of the Positive Discipline Association’s Board of Directors and regularly facilitates Positive Discipline in the Classroom and Parenting with Positive Discipline workshops and certification trainings.

Teresa is a Whole Child Faculty Member – Regional Specialist for ASCD (an educational leadership organization). She serves as a School Culture and Climate Field Consultant with The United Way of Northern New Jersey’s/Collage of St. Elizabeth’s – Youth Empowerment Alliance Program; and has received an award from the NJ State Department of Education, as part of a team, for implementing a “Role Model Character Education Program” (based on the Positive Discipline Whole School Model). She is a licensed nurse with 23 years of experience in the areas of Family and Pediatric Care, Child Development, and General Medicine. She is also the author of two positive discipline books.

The opinions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Unity Charter School. Unity Charter School is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the author.

Unity Students Come Together to Give Back

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Health and Nutrition, Middle School, Uncategorized

by Marie Collinson IMG_4494

Two days before Thanksgiving, one of Unity’s learning groups, the 7/8 Jaguars, took twenty-four boxes of food to the Interfaith Food Pantry. For several weeks leading up to the delivery, students from all the learning groups brought in canned and boxed goods to donate: 263 cans, 44 boxes of things like macaroni, and 32 miscellaneous items such as jars of spices in all. These items were placed in decorated cardboard boxes by the front door.

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The boxes were decorated during an extended morning meeting time when the learning groups got together with their buddy classes. Children cut autumn leaves and “hand” turkeys from construction paper, made origami shapes, drew colored patterns directly on the boxes, and generally made the boxes look festive. This was a great bonding time for the different ages as older students helped little ones create the decorations.

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On delivery day, the Jaguars carried the loaded boxes onto a school bus for the short ride to the pantry. Once there, the food was taken into the center, and one of the volunteers gave the Jaguars a tour of the facility, which includes a room with shelves stacked with non-perishable food and refrigerators for perishable goods, a kitchen where clients may receive cooking lessons, and a large garden in the back. The garden coordinator spoke about the work she does there.

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The Jaguars asked thoughtful questions. One student wanted to know if there are restrictions governing who is allowed to come to the pantry, and as a group, the students were interested to find out that anyone in need can come, that even someone with what seems like a good salary might not have enough money for food if the family’s budget is overwhelmed by paying for cancer treatments or something of that nature. Another student asked how often the cooking classes are held. Still another asked about the big pieces of equipment and what they are used for.

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Overall, the food drive was a success as Unity families were able to offer a little comfort and hope to the community at large.

Not Your Average School Picture

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Uncategorized

By Deb Marcus

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. However, this year, the Unity school photos left me speechless. These photos were not traditional school photos where students are placed in front of a fake background and asked to smile big for the camera. This year, the Parents Association (PA) embraced the school’s mission and did something different. Led by Amy Ghelli, the PA hired a natural light photographer, Olga Belinskiy Photography, to capture the students naturally in our new outdoor space. The results were stunning. I have a feeling that quite a few families will be buying pictures and using them for holiday cards and displaying them proudly instead of storing them in a photo album or scrapbook.

Unlike some other schools where you have to invest in a school picture package before the pictures are even taken, Unity was able to work with the photographer so that families could purchase pictures after viewing them online. There was also a wide range of individual sizes and prices and a multi-picture discounts to cater to everyone’s needs and wallets. These pictures not only reflect the warm culture of Unity but also the school’s focus on the environment. I’m already looking forward to next year’s photos!

Unity Students Engage In First Democratic Governance Meeting of the Year

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Daily Life at Unity Charter School, Education, Middle School, Uncategorized

by Joeleen Corrales-Lee

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Unity Charter School held its first democratic governance (DG) meeting for the year on Wednesday, November 5th! We had about 30 students eager to get to work. During the meeting, we discussed having 2 representatives from each learning group in grades K-4 attend a DG session. The students will rotate to allow all students the opportunity to attend. In the middle school, 2 representatives from each learning group will attend meetings.

Afterwards, the group split up into four groups and brainstormed ideas for our school. The ideas ranged from a whole school clean-up service project to students being teachers for a day. When all the ideas were shared, students worked together to create idea boxes for each learning group. Students will be encouraged to write down their thoughts and ideas about their school community. We are looking to finish creating the boxes at our next session, so look for them in the classrooms. Overall, the first session was a success! We look forward to the next meeting.

Morristown’s Mayor Dougherty visits Kindergarten and 1st Grade Students

Written by Deborah Marcus. Posted in Education, Uncategorized

by Megan Higgins

As part of our Community Helpers unit, the Kindergarten and K/1 classes received a special visit from Mayor Dougherty on November 3rd. He shared with us his responsibilities as the mayor of Morristown and answered many interesting questions the children asked about himself and how he helps the community. The classes were fascinated to learn that Mayor Dougherty oversees such a broad range of departments in the community, including the police and fire departments that came to visit us in previous weeks. This experience helped the children further understand the overall connection that exists within communities and how important it is for everyone in a community to do their part to work toward common goals.

MayorDoughertyvisitsUnity MorristownMayorDoughertyvisitsKindergarten