Positive approach to student discipline at WJ


(Posted March 18, 2015)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

A positive approach that favors trust-building over intimidation. That’s the tact Shawn Buescher takes when handling disciplinary issues with students.

Buescher is finishing his first school year as dean of students at West Jefferson middle school and high school. Previously, he served only the high school population. Last year, the Jefferson Local school board expanded his role to include the middle school.

In a report to the board on March 16, Buescher explained that one of his goals is to help students at all grade levels move from forced discipline to self-discipline.

“The idea is to steer away from focusing on consequences and have it be more about the student becoming a better person… and not repeating mistakes,” he said.

He also works to explain to parents the how and why behind the discipline process.

“We want them to know that discipline is something we do for your child, not to your child,” he said.

As dean of students, Buescher also oversees attendance issues, including tar-dies, absences and truancy. Additionally, he is charged with promoting a safe environment in which students feel free to express and challenge themselves without fear of failure.

To pull off these objectives across both the middle and high schools, Buescher said he relies on the support of fellow staffers.

School board president Dave Harper commended Buescher on a job well done.

“One of your biggest achievements is the teamwork and cooperation you get from teachers and administrators,” he said. “You use your resources to the best of your ability.”

Harper also noted that leaders in other school districts have taken notice of Buescher’s success with decreasing har-rassment and bullying among students.

“It’s been a great transition,” said Superintendent Mullett of Buescher’s expanded role. “It was a good decision on the part of the board.”

In other district news:

  • Two West Jefferson students were among 52 students from 139 schools who qualified for the regional spelling bee. Caleb Arteaga, a seventh-grader, placed fourth. Emily Harvey, a fifth-grader, placed 15th.
  • The high school will present the musical, “Grease,” April 17-19. Some of the lead characters will give Norwood Elementary students a preview performance on April 1.
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