MORRISTOWN, NJ - Executive Director of Unity Charter School, Connie Sanchez, was recently invited to speak on the topic of Secure Attachment and Childhood Trauma, at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown, NJ. The Center for Human and Social Development, at the college, partnered with the United Way of Northern New Jersey Youth Empowerment Alliance to offer the School Culture and Climate Initiative (SCCI).
The goal of the SCCI is to provide school districts in northern New Jersey with the means to improve their culture and climate resulting in an environment where children can thrive emotionally, physically, and academically, and where students, the family, and the wider community are engaged in the schools.
Building a positive climate to reinforce a student’s social and emotional learning has been part of Unity Charter School’s culture and charter since its inception in 1998. As a Positive Discipline school it strives to ensure all students thrive academically, while developing the social emotional skill set to be successful well beyond their Unity Years. During the presentation Connie spoke to district and school leaders about Unity’s use of Positive Discipline and how the school was founded using an Adlerian process to resolve conflict. The Adlerian process is based on the work of psychotherapist Alfred Adler. He was the founder of the school of individual psychology. His work emphasized the feelings of inferiority.
Sanchez also spoke to the value of teaching self awareness, self regulation, conflict resolution and reflective decision making skills throughout the school day by taking the time with students to model behaviors, use self and other affirming language, and making positive choices. She also spoke about how experiential integration is an important factor in supporting internalization of what we teach and practice in the more structured times of class, and whole school meetings. The presentation also spoke to the importance of valuing our students’ competencies as learners and provide instructional opportunities that reinforce self efficacy through collaboration, exploratory learning, questioning, and discovery. This instructional approach invites teachers to facilitate the learning process while students are trusted to construct meaning independently or collectively.
“The most important thing I have found as an educator, and something that has been reinforced as an educational leader, is that if you truly want students to succeed you cannot teach academics in isolation. In order to cognitively engage children you have to address and support the whole child. You must have individualized behavioral plans just as you would have individualized learning plans. Taking time to develop supportive systems is crucial and making it part of the school culture is a fundamental first step,” said Executive Director Connie Sanchez.