Clarifying our approach to building a positive, inclusive school culture

Dear Tacoma Community,

Recently, I have fielded some questions about discipline practices at Green Dot’s Destiny Middle School. I want to be forthright about our approach at Destiny and correct the record regarding some misinformation that may have been shared.

Green Dot’s mission is simple: Preparing all students for College, Leadership, and Life. This credo drives everything we do, in every single school, including Destiny Middle School. In order to prepare students for those three things, teachers must be empowered to teach every day and students must be empowered to learn every day in a safe, inclusive learning environment where they are known and cared for. This is the environment in which our mission can be realized so that all students are prepared for college, leadership and life.

Destiny’s discipline approach is guided by two complementary systems: Positive Behavioral Intervention Systems (PBIS) and Restorative Justice. Together, these two disciplinary approaches emphasize building positive relationships between students and teachers, and repairing conflict through restoration as a first measure of intervention. Specific practices include cool down centers in classrooms, a Restorative Center for student mediation, a school-wide “Advisory” curriculum that focuses on anti-bullying and college preparatory topics, and integration with our counseling and therapeutic services. Furthermore, network-wide professional development helps staff learn about and use restorative interventions, Universal Design for Learning, and culturally responsive teaching.

In an effort to respond to feedback and school data, the school acted on existing policy to assign disciplinary consequences for DMS students who were not able to meet basic expectations of appropriate behavior. That action was in alignment with the school’s PBIS and Restorative Justice approaches and did not result in any expulsions. Since that time, Destiny has reminded its families of our commitment to safety and respect in our schools and hosted a school-wide parent meeting to receive parent feedback and encourage parent dialogue. Destiny has received significant support from its parents in maintaining this safe, inclusive environment for all students.

In the history of Destiny Middle School, we have expelled zero students. We are very proud of that data point and we see it as reflective of our overall success in working to provide a high-quality public education to every student who passes through our doors. Our discipline model reflects this “education first” value, which has remained unchanged since Destiny’s founding. Green Dot’s number one priority is always educating all students in a safe, inclusive environment, and we are proud of the work our staff and students do every day to achieve this mission.

Sincerely yours,

 

Cheryl Sullivan
Principal
Destiny Middle School

 

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