West Hawaii Mediation Center embarked on our middle and high school peer mediation pilot program in late 2012; our first partner school was Kohala Middle School (KMS). The planning and training processes that we use today were established and refined at KMS. It has been a mutually rewarding and beneficial partnership. We were able to guide and support the development of their program and their successes, innovations, and challenges have helped us to define the work that we are currently doing in other schools.
KMS trained their first mediators in early 2013 and have steadily built their program with an eye on sustainability. Now in its 3rd full year, the program has expanded beyond offering peer mediation services to the school community. Peer mediation is actually a semester-long course that is offered twice per year. In addition to completing the peer mediation 12-hour training, students learn about conflict resolution and social/emotional health in greater depth. Students then develop their own mini-trainings that they present to all students and teachers through a series of classroom visits. This is a wonderful leadership opportunity and an effective way to teach conflict resolution skills to everyone at the school. These student leaders also present at school assemblies, lead anti-bullying efforts at the school, participate in the island-wide Hokupa’a Leadership Council, and take at least two community-based field trips each semester to bolster the values of service learning and leadership.
During the months of February and March we will be training the next group of mediators at KMS – bringing the total number for SY2015-16 to 32. KMS is a leader in peer mediation on the Big Island and we are deeply grateful for this meaningful partnership. We send a sincere mahalo to principal Alan Brown and counselor and peer mediation coordinator Lauren Canton for their dedication and support.