by Katie Morgan
February 7, 2017 @BRSOE
Reframed, the question is, “Do WE want THEM to win?”
I had the pleasure of meeting with Pickens County (SC) school superintendent Dr. Danny Merck last month. During our meeting, we discussed his session on restorative practices for our upcoming event, Moving Forward Together: A National Summit on Schools, Communities and Law Enforcement. Dr. Merck has served as superintendent of the district for the last three years and has been instilling a philosophy of restorative practices into both student and staff communities with great results.
He told me that he wanted to create a culture where both students and staff could overcome their mistakes, learn lessons, and move on. I asked him how he had initiated that change. Had he changed his discipline policies? Had he invested in restorative justice training? He answered “no” to both of those questions.
To the policy question, he replied that policy change wasn’t necessary. You have to respect the policies and respect the data, he said, but the key is to frame both with a growth mindset and a restorative philosophy. He has given his principals the latitude to do that.
To the question about training, he replied that creating the right culture trumps training on strategies every day.
Even with Dr. Merck’s commitment to restorative practices, he does not go easy on corrective discipline. He still has critical conversations with both students and staff, but they are infused with 100% respect and 100% honesty.
Corrective discipline takes place in an environment where the answer to the question, “Do they want me to win?” is a resounding “YES!”
Dr. Danny Merck
Pickens County School District, SC