Mt. Tipton School to use peer mediators

DOLAN SPRINGS ­ Mt. Tipton School will have 26 peer mediators available to resolve student conflicts this academic year.

Lorie Laird is the peer mediation coordinator at the school. She is a Northern Arizona University graduate student, who is doing the project as part of a doctoral thesis toward her education leadership degree.

Peer mediation is a conflict resolution program intended to decrease violence in schools and create an environment that is more friendly for learning, Laird said.

"We sent notices to all of the teachers and asked for referrals of students with good grades without discipline problems and that are conscientious in regard to others," Laird said. "We had 52 names submitted, started 37 in the training, and 26 completed it.

"We're trying to have qualified peer mediators, so it worked out rather well. This program was done five years ago at Mt. Tipton and three of them are veterans from that program."

Senior peer mediators that have previous experience include Matt Van Pelt, Cyndi Pitcock and Shelly Payton. Tasha Kelly also is a senior peer mediator.

Van Pelt became a peer mediator when he was in the sixth grade at Mt. Tipton.

"A lot of my peers had problems (at the time) and I figured this was the best way to help them out," he said.

"There's still a lot of conflict here in what are your normal teenage problems."

Students went through two days of training during the second week of May. Much of it was a refresher course for Van Pelt.

Bonnie Kleiman and Nikki Palomino from Mohave County Peer Mediation Court worked with Laird on the training course. Mt. Tipton teachers Kim Dios and Debra Jones also were involved, Laird said.

"The kids were taught hands-on experience of doing mediation and also why mediation is so important," Laird said. "We seek a win-win solution to all conflicts."

Other peer mediators completing the course include: Kymberli Ajero, Jake Smith, Chris Olsen and Cody Lee in grade 11; Andrew Olsen in grade 10; Karissa Schoffstall in grade 9; Britteny Vance, Casey Rieb, Austin Cornell and Ashley Hobbs in grade 7; Eddie McGraw, Rickey Rogers, Chelsea Lamb, Kelsey Rendon, Amber Reade, Andie Sparks and Ashleigh Cooper in grade 6.

And Orrin Powell, Brooklyn Manore, Kris Thomas, Shawna Mitchell and Miranda Futch are the peer mediators in grade 5.

Bullying is the number one problem in most schools. Name calling and gossiping are other matters peer mediators help settle, Laird said.

The senior peer mediators will help coordinate the program from the student level, making it the first time that has ever taken place in any peer mediation program she has researched, Laird said.

Students will travel Sept. 1 to the Kingman Unified School District Office to receive badges containing their photos, Laird said

"It will be the first time students will have official adult badges," she said. "We feel they've earned them from the two days of training and commitment they've made to the program. Other students will be able to readily identify them as people at school that can help them."

The group is scheduled to be at the district office at 10 a.m. Sept. 1. A lunch will follow at Golden Corral before the group heads to the Mohave County Courthouse at 1 p.m. to visit the mediation department for follow-up training and to see what adults do there, she said.