SAN ANTONIO - "Circling it out", it's a catchphrase producing results at a middle school in the North East ISD.
The innovative alternative to traditional discipline has helped lead to a huge decrease in suspensions at Ed White Middle School. This year alone it's helped lead to an 84 percent decrease in suspensions among students.
Sixth grade reading teacher, Elizabeth Washington, has found herself writing fewer discipline referrals and communicating more with her students this year. A program called "restorative discipline" at Ed White M.S. has made a world of difference.
"(It's a) life changing experience," said Washington.
"We've had students come up when they're in conflict say we want to "circle it"," said Philip Carney, principal Ed White M.S.
Carney, is the man behind the popular phrase at the school: "circling it out". He was looking for a different way to approach student discipline
"Rather than just punishing the kid for breaking the rule we help them see how their actions have impacted others and we hold them accountable by helping them to make it right," said Carney.
Take for example, 7th grader Jaylen Murray, he was not seeing eye-to-eye with another student so before the argument escalated they "circled it out" with an adult present. Jaylen and the other student talked it out only to realize what they were fighting over was not worth it.
"It helps us understand the feelings of other people," said Murray.
"We're not only resolving conflict we're teaching children an alternate setting," said the principal about restorative discipline.
It's also helping teachers. Washington tried out the program with a troubled student and said it changed his demeanor.
"He opened up and I got to see a whole different side of the kid and from that day on that kid was completely different in my class," said Washington.
Ed White M.S. is halfway through the three year pilot. Although not fully implemented at Ed White, other schools in the district have expressed interest in "circling it out."