Freire Charter School is a peaceful community. Our highest priority is making sure that students feel safe and engaged in our classrooms and throughout our building, and that each of us has the tools and skills we need to resolve conflict peacefully. We work together as a community to create a peaceful environment in which every student can focus on themselves and their education and feel safe to take the emotional and personal risks necessary for learning. We view conflict as an opportunity for learning, growth, positive change, and peace as a way of life.
In practice, this means supporting students in accessing internal peace through counselling services and other individual supports, as well as teaching strategies for recognizing and resolving interpersonal conflicts. Every member of the Freire community has access to cost-free individual and family counseling services, group therapy, and school-based social workers. Students will be trained to work with their peers to help resolve budding conflicts and collaborate to create long-term solutions and build a stronger community.
History of Peace at Freire
Peace has come to be a way of life inside Freire Charter School, driven in large part by the students themselves. In 1999, when our first school opened, students entered Freire’s space each telling stories of horror, fear, and attack from fellow students and teachers alike at their previous schools. What these students talked about was raw and emotionally felt, and each and every one of them hoped that Freire would be a place where students and teachers felt safe and secure to do the learning they knew colleges would demand of them later in their education. During that first year, the Freire students worked weekly with the school leadership, striving to build the core elements of what Freire would one day later become. Peace and safety were by far the students’ first priority, followed by high quality academics. Now, years later, students, staff, and parents at Freire are members of a tight-knit family committed to peace, trust, and mutual respect for each other’s safety.
This peaceful and safe atmosphere is critical to high academic achievement. Students cannot learn in an environment where they do not sense physical safety. We are not a school with high academic achievement and a commitment to peace; we are a school with high academic achievement because we are committed to peace. You cannot have one without the other.
Because Freire’s commitment to peace is unique and because Freire is an educational institution committed to supporting the growth and success of every one in the community, Freire Charter School has created a comprehensive set of supports and structures for students as they enter the Freire culture.
These supports are as follows:
- Student-Led Community Building and Conflict Resolution
- Anger Management
- Individual Counseling
- Family Counseling
- Training in Effective Communication
- Supports from the Dean’s Office
- School-Wide Events to Promote Peace
- Teacher Training
Furthermore, as part of our ongoing commitment to antiracism and fight for equity, Freire Schools is working to make our Nonviolence Policy more racially just. A big part of the work we do this year (and in the future) is developing the practice of restoring harm when it is done — for all parties involved. This includes utilizing restorative practices that respond to acts of violence and offering pro-active supports to students to prevent violence. Supports may include orientation for new students, student-led community building, instruction in conflict resolution, connecting students and families with community resources such as family therapy and counseling, restorative circles, and other programs.
Preamble to Freire Student Constitution:
We the students of Freire Charter School recognize that each and every one of us deserves to be treated with care and support. Each of us is entitled to a learning environment where safety, freedom, trust, and respect are displayed at all times. We know that within this student body, there are many ages, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities, needs, origins, religions, creeds, shapes, and sizes. But we are all united by our desire to learn. Together, we will work to make sure our school is safe and that we are always learning. We will think before we act in order to make smarter decisions for ourselves and our school. We will give and ask for help as needed. We will challenge ourselves and each other to meet the highest expectations. We will celebrate the successes each of us has along the way to achieving our goals. We know that each individual victory is a victory for us all.
We are the students of Freire Charter School.