The fourth annual Mediator Appreciation Day will be held at California State University, Fresno on Thursday, May 11, when 300 elementary and middle school students will be honored for their service in mediating conflicts among peers at their respective schools.
The peer mediators — students from Hanford, Sanger, Central and Fresno Unified schools —were trained by their teachers in concert with faculty and university students in Fresno State’s Mediator Mentors program, a university-public school partnership based in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development in collaboration with several university centers.
Fresno State students learning to become teachers, counselors, school psychologists and social workers mentor the public school students and teachers in peer conflict management and communication skills during 8-10 hours of training as they participate in guided role-play scenarios.
The peer mediators return to their respective schools and “give up” one lunch period per week to help resolve actual conflicts that arise among their peers.
Since the program began in 1998, Fresno State has trained more than 1,000 students, teachers and administrators in conflict resolution and mediation skills. This year, 50 university students are involved in the program with some involved in only the training sessions held at Fresno State and others spending the entire year on the campus of their selected school site mentoring the young mediators.
Training and supervision of the mentors is provided under the direction of Dr. Pam Lane-Garon, associate professor in the Literacy and Early Education Department in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, with the assistance of Dr. Art Wint, coordinator of Peace and Conflict Studies in the College of Social Sciences.
Other university partners have been The Center for Research, Evaluation, Assessment and Dissemination, The Bonner Center for Character Education, and University Outreach Services in the Student Affairs Division.
“These university programs have contributed to campus climate improvement in many of our Central Valley schools that are implementing mentored peer mediation programs,” Lane-Garon. “Mediator Appreciation Day celebrates student and teacher service.”
At the event, the young mediators are honored with lunch at the University Student Union, where they meet and interact with college students and professors. University Outreach provides guided tours of academic colleges, the Save Mart Center and the Peace Garden.
A presentation will be provided by Doug Broten, Fresno State alumnus who is director of the Dispute Settlement Center in the San Joaquin Better Business Bureau. He will bring two professional mediators from his staff to talk to students about their daily mediation work.
For more information, contact Lane-Garon at pamelalqcsufresno.edu or 559.278.0320.