from Parents and Teachers at Lafayette Elementary School

Quotes from Teachers and Faculty

“We want our children to master their academics but we equally want them to master being good citizens who care about one another and the world at large. The Peace Program does just that. In an age where bullying has become a major problem, the Program is proactive instead of reactive, thereby eliminating some of those problems before they begin…

“The Peace Program also offers a safe haven for learners of different modalities to thrive in a safe environment. Linda Ryden’s calm nature makes her a calming presence for students and staff alike. In a stressful environment, which schools can be, her presence and the presence of the Peace Program helps to calm us all which in turn allows us to be the best we can be.”

Jackie Snowden, Assistant Principal

“We have seen the peace program develop from the very beginning and have always been strong advocates. … The importance of teaching kindness, compassion, how to get along, what to do if there is bullying, and how to handle or possibly to avoid conflicts cannot be overstated…

“The Peace program works. We have been able to see the difference between the students’ ability to handle conflicts over the years and we have seen improvement. We hear the language that Ms. Ryden teaches out on the playground. We see kids doing nice things for their kindness pals which gives them real life practice to show them how good it feels to be nice. It’s wonderful to hear Ms. Ryden tell kids how she feels good when she receives a gift, but she feels so much better when she gives one. Kids listen. They really do. Ms. Ryden’s new “mindful movements” also supports the school’s focus on controlled voices and bodies.”

Lisa Jensen and Blake Yedwab, Third Grade Teachers

“The Peace program, especially the Peace Club, has really helped my students over the past few years. I work with students that receive specialized instruction. Peace Club has allowed my students to flourish! I have seen the program’s principles at work every time I teach my students. I also believe that having this program has allowed my students to be more included. In short, we have a nicer school and students go out of their way to make my students feel welcome. I believe the Peace program has played a part in this.
Finally, I have a student that is a big support and helper at Peace Club. She helps younger kids out and this allows her to have a sense of self-worth. She is always anxious to go to anything Peace Club-related and it is a joy to see her spirit grow! Please continue to support the Peace program at Lafayette!”

Kerry Cassidy, Special Education Teacher

“This program is invaluable to the growth of our students here at Lafayette.”

Jared Catapano, Fourth Grade Teacher

“The program carries over to the classroom in several ways. I have students asking to go see Ms. Ryden to resolve conflicts. The instances of bullying are down as children understand the scope of what bullying is. Linda’s peace program has a profound effect on our students.”

Brad Jewett, Fifth Grade Teacher

“I would like to express my enthusiastic support for the Peace program at Lafayette…

Students at Lafayette are demonstrating increasing skills in working as a team and supporting each other. There is a very positive and cooperative “vibe” this year at Lafayette, and I attribute that in part to Lafayette’s unique Peace program. The Peace Program is an important piece of the puzzle that makes Lafayette the special place it is!”

Laurie McLaughlin, Art Teacher

“I have been very impressed with the Peace Program and the magic it appears to have spread on the Lafayette community. It is hard to really assess the far reaching impact that the program has had on each class individually but I can tell you as a psychologist who has worked in DCPS for 22 years, this is one of the calmest buildings I have ever been in. I do believe that your program has had a big part to do with that.”

Harriet Kuhn, School Psychologist

Quotes from Parents

“I believe that if there were someone like Ms. Ryden in each elementary school across America, we would likely see a wholesale reduction in bullying and juvenile crime. The value that the Peace program provides to the Lafayette community is immeasurable.”

Sam Frumkin, third grade parent

“Peace Class teaches our children how to be part of a community that is kind, cooperative, intelligent and emotionally healthy. Linda Ryden teaches our children to act with the highest expectations and finest intentions toward each other. Linda Ryden has singlehandedly changed the culture of this school.”

Janet Zwick, fourth grade parent and third grade teacher

“In my mind, and in the minds of my children, one of the most precious resources at Lafayette is Linda Ryden and her Peace Program. How lucky we are to be able to provide such a positive and uplifting program for our children… Linda’s lessons of conflict resolution and self-control are an invaluable tool for our children now and in the future… I am happy, through the fundraising efforts of the HSA, that we can provide our children with resources like the Peace Program. I strongly support the continuation of the funding for this program and encourage additional funding.”

Kerrie Bouker, fifth and second grade parent

“As highlighted in recent news reports, Linda’s program is unique and wonderful in a public elementary setting. Readers are likely envious that we have such an offering for our children. I certainly feel grateful that this program is there when my boys needed and continue to need it. Thank you to the HSA for supporting this important program; it contributes significantly to the overall ‘wonderfulness’ that is Lafayette.”

Virginia Stocker, fourth grade parent

“I was co-president of the HSA from 2004 – 2006 when Linda Ryden approached us with the idea of a Peace Program. At that time, the kids in the school were very “cliquey”. There was a program in place then for peer mediation where the kids helped each other solve their disagreements. There were a large group of peer mediators. There was also a rise in bullying within the school. Although the HSA board at the time was unfamiliar with a Peace Program, it seemed to be a wonderful solution to the problems that the school was facing. Since the program was implemented, bullying has not been a large issue and the peer mediation group no longer exists. There is much greater spirit of kindness and concern within the student body. This can be attributed to the work that Linda has done with the Peace Program and the Peace Club.”

Kim Ford, second grade parent

“I am so proud that my children attend Lafayette, where the Peace Program provides them the opportunity to learn and practice the multiple ways of being a good person.
This sense of community is evident when people enter the Lafayette building. Perhaps it is the peace club posters reminding people to be kind to others, or perhaps it is the focus given to these topics during peace class, but students at Lafayette know how to create a welcoming community…

“In a world where many of our children believe that community only exists online and where communication with others can only happen through monosyllabic words exchanged on a small screen, we need the Peace Program at Lafayette. Our students do recognize real warmth, generosity, kindness, and yes, even real community, when they are given the opportunity to experience it and celebrate it!”

Jenny Nachbar, third grade parent

“I would like to add my support of HSA funding for the Peace Program at Lafayette Elementary School. A couple of years ago, I was able to witness how students are able to use what they learn in the Peace class. I was a monitor during recess when I noticed two fourth graders get into a heated argument to the point of it getting physical. I was trying to resolve the issue when a third fourth grader who knew both of them interceded. He calmly talked to them both, using many of the tools Linda teaches – asking both what had happened, how they were feeling and mentioning the “conflict escalator”. I was able to stand back and observe while he helped the two boys resolve the issue and even got them to shake hands…

“I think that our Lafayette community has benefited by having the Peace program in place for so many years and that in many ways, we have been way ahead of the curve in addressing the problem. I know our kids and entire community will continue to benefit by keeping this valuable class as part of our curriculum.”

Maria Petaros and David Engvall, fourth grade parents

“The work you are doing is so important and has had a major impact on the lives of the students (and parents!) at Lafayette!”

Brenna Maloney, second and fourth grade parent