The New Image Project - Reducing Student Suspensions

The Reality of Suspensions
ISS (In School Suspension) and OSS (Out of school suspension) are temporary solutions to the problem of student misbehavior. While the teacher is relieved of a student or students for a day or days and feels able to teach the “students who want to learn”, the problem student returns more frustrated and angrier than when he or she was suspended. Especially when students feel that they have been unfairly suspended, it only increases their anger and potential for “defiant” behavior. Students who receive multiple suspensions become frustrated, and begin to feel a sense of helplessness and powerlessness within the school setting. ISS and OSS have profoundly negative effects upon the student’s academic performance and belief in the power of education.


Research (Mendez, 2003; Mendez and Knoff, 2003) shows that:
Suspension does not decrease inappropriate behavior.
Suspension is not a deterrent to either suspended or non-suspended students.
Suspension is pervasive. For some African American students, suspension begins as early as kindergarten and continues through high school.
Suspension leads to repeated suspensions.
Suspension is negatively related to academic achievement.

 The most damaging aspect of multiple suspensions is that it puts students at risk for academic failure, dropping out, and delinquency. When students miss instructional time for a day or more, they enter the “academic/discipline” cycle of failure; a natural result of missing direct instruction and classroom activities. With each discipline event and subsequent suspension, the student’s chances of catching up and performing adequately in class are diminished.  This cycle of academic/discipline failure will continue unless intervention occurs.


​A Persistent Problem
The most recent data (2014) regarding school  discipline reveals that  the racial discipline gap continues to increase rather than close. Evidence also indicates that most in-school (ISS) and out-of-school (OSS) suspensions are not the result of serious offenses but minor infractions. Finding a way to assist students to avoid engaging in behaviors that lead to minor infractions is crucial.

The New Image Project has a success rate of 82.35% in decreasing student suspensions and referrals through its focus on assisting students with multiple suspensions to learn how to develop self-control, manage emotions, and not respond to “emotional triggers”. The Lessons in Courage and Character Curriculum promotes the development of beliefs, values, attributes, and pro-social skills associated with good character. Students develop seven core skills necessary for self-control and taking responsibility for their own behavior: self-awareness; self-definition; self-determination; self-direction; self-discipline; self-development; and self-reliance.

The New Image Project promotes the development of:
Positive self-identity
Academic identity
Emotions Management
Perseverance
Focus
Pro-social attitudes and skills that lessen the possibility of referrals and suspensions.


Implementation
Historical narrative and storytelling are used to assist students in learning attitudes and skills that lead to the development of an academic identity. Through the story of Obi, an enslaved young man and his friends who escape from slavery and find refuge among the Seminoles of Florida, students develop the skills necessary to take responsibility for their behavior.

The New Image Project consists of three components:
1) Readings from Obi: Seminole Maroon Freedom Fighter (the story of Obi and his flight to freedom);
2) The Lessons in Courage and Character curriculum that contains discussion questions and activities related to the readings, personal growth, and character development;
3) Individual and group projects (i.e., establishing a Maroon garden, foraging for native plants and edible foods, conducting research, writing, artistic, and craft activities.

 The target populations for the New Image Project are middle school students of color (particularly, African American, Hispanic/Latino) who are struggling socially and academically in the school environment. Students with multiple suspensions (ISS and/or OSS) and who maintain less than a 2.0 grade point average are eligible for the program. Students are selected for inclusion in the program based upon referrals of teachers, counselors, and administrators. Teachers, counselors, and administrators responsible for discipline issues can be trained to implement the program. It is also recommended that when possible, high school students meeting the criteria established by the project director/coordinator be trained as mentors/facilitators for the project.

The New Image Project
Additional Benefits:
Engage in positive peer group interactions,
Learn untold history,
Explore new experiences,
Engage in community service projects,
Develop leadership skills,
Gain entrepreneurial knowledge,
Discover/develop personal gifts/talents
Learn and practice skills in decision-making, goal-setting, and problem-solving.


Curriculum Cost:
The New Image Project Set                               $149.95
Includes ten (10) copies of Obi: Seminole Maroon Freedom Fighter, Facilitator Guide for Lessons in Courage and Character
The New Image Project Set and Obi: Seminole Maroon Adventure Game Set                                            $199.95
Supplementary Materials
Obi: Seminole Maroon Adventure Game Set
Game 1: Escape the Plantation                         $29.99
Game 2: Surviving the Swamp                         $29.99
Game 3: Founding Ogun Town                         $29.99
Set of all 3:                                                             $75.00
Other Training Resources:
*New Image Project Facilitator Training

*Lessons In Courage and Character
*A Foundation For Academic Excellence
*Creating Optimum Learning Environments for Students in Poverty
*Culturally Responsive Pedagogy
*Teacher Empowerment

*Parent Empowerment

*Rethinking School Discipline
*Developing Into Womanhood: Tasks and Skills for Females of Color
*The Youth Empowerment System

 *Cost of one day facilitator training: $2500 + expenses