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Give Peace a Chance: NC Schools Take New Approach

Peaceful Schools North Carolina has implemented its program in several Durham schools. (Krissy Venosdale/Flickr)
Peaceful Schools North Carolina has implemented its program in several Durham schools. (Krissy Venosdale/Flickr)
August 9, 2017

DURHAM, N.C. - Thousands of North Carolina children have their first day of school this week, and while the emphasis is on academics, more educators also are looking at innovative ways to encourage a healthy learning environment.

The group Peaceful Schools NC works with schools to create a positive climate to enhance kids' ability to learn. Three schools in Durham have implemented the program so far, and the group's chair, Christel Butchart, said they've seen positive results.

"It's really putting primacy on the importance of positive relationships," she said, "and saying that the relationships that you have in school, with each other and with your teachers, is central to how the kids are going to be able to thrive and succeed in school."

Butchart said her group teaches schools how to resolve conflicts, promote inclusion and accountability among students, and increase diversity awareness. In late October, Peaceful Schools NC will host a conference at Duke University for educators and administrators to learn how to create more positive relationships with students.

Butchart, a teacher at Carolina Friends School in Durham, said she finds it isn't that schools don't want more peaceful classrooms - but teachers aren't always given the tools to help create that environment.

"No one every really argues that it's a terrible idea to teach peace education; we just don't really make space for it in traditional school settings," she said. "We're not really training pre-service teachers in how to create thriving classroom communities; it's something that's expected."

Butchart said the Peaceful Schools approach focuses on teaching students about empathy, empowerment, respect, confidence, stress reduction and calming strategies.

More information is online at

Reporting by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the Park Foundation.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC