MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Instead of a trip to the principal's office, the Shelby County School district hopes students can "reset" their behavior with a trip to a room that promotes calming and de-escalation techniques. This fall that program is going district-wide in hopes of cutting down on suspensions.
Kirby High School was among the first schools to get a designated ReSET room, an intervention step to hopefully save them from a trip to the office of Kirby Principal Dr. Steevon Hunter.
“Here’s a place where students can come de-escalate and resolve whatever outbursts they had or being upset about a fight or a grade whatever it is," Dr. Hunter said.
Inside each ReSET room, a teaching assistant works with students. The district said the assistant is trained to help students dealing with trauma and helping students with de-escalation techniques.
“We do what we can to get them back into the class to have the right mindset and ready to grow and learn," Dr. Hunter.
The district launched the ReSET rooms in the fall of 2019 at 30 schools as an intervention step to try and reduce suspensions.
This upcoming school year, it's going nearly district-wide with 127 ReSET rooms.
“This is not a punitive environment," 1:52-:10 Dr. Angela Hargrave, Student Equity Enrollment Discipline (SEED) Executive Director, said. "It’s a restorative environment. A student may have committed some kind of infraction that prior to this space may have landed a child in the principal’s office and possibly suspended from school.”
The district reports that in the first year suspensions fell nearly 6% before the school year went virtual in 2020-21.
Dr. Hargrave said redirecting students in this way also helped the district identify students faster who need the extra intervention support.
“Schools are here to educate children and provide academic instruction," she said. "We can’t do that if the students are not present for class and not able to attend class. Anything that disrupts that educational environment of course is something we want to stop.”
Dr. Hunter said it's helping his students return to the classroom and hopefully helping them outside of the classroom too by being left with improved communication and decision-making skills.
In that first year, the district said 1,400 students were redirected to the ReSET rooms at the 30 schools.