Woodruff: A Lesson of Non-violence
Woodruff: A Lesson of Non-violence was selected for showing at the Hot Springs Documentary Festival in November 2010.
Two of the Woodruff principals and councilor Shirley Davis who instigated and promoted the program were in attendance at the showing as were several members of Arkansas WAND. Principals Pat Higginbotham, Janice Wilson and Shirley Davis answered questions from the audience of about 100 visitors about the program and the possibility of replicating it in other schools. Copies of the DVD were requested by many of the attendants who wished to share it with their own schools.
The film will be shown at University of Central Arkansas, Reynolds Hall in Conway on February 11, 7:30 PM as part of a Black History Month program. Janice Wilson and Shirley Davis will attend and answer questions after the showing. It will also be shown at the Laman Library, North Little Rock, on March 14 at 6 PM. with a panel discussion led by Pat Higginbotham and Anncha Briggs. Arkansas Educational Television Network will air the film in March. It has also been selected to be shown at the Ozark Film Festival this spring. Dates and locations for the last two will be announced later. For more information contact Anncha Briggs, Chair of the Woodruff committee at 501- 663-1016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Woodruff Elementary School in Little Rock came to WAND's attention because of its non-violence character education program.
Woodruff has been a member of the Great Expectations of Arkansas (GEA) program for twelve years, through the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, building on the philosophy of educator, Marv Collins, to help teachers utilize strategies such as proverbs to instill discipline.
After visiting the school, WAND members felt the program was so successful in helping children understand the value of a cooperative and peaceful environment that they honored the instigators of the program, Principals Pat Higginbotham, Janice Wilson and Katrina Ray, at their annual Mother’s Day Luncheon in 2007. “ It was setting an example we felt other schools should be able to imitate,” said Anncha Briggs, WAND board member and chair of the project.
As there was no written program or resource guide, WAND applied for and received a grant in 2008 to write a guide and to document a few days in ‘the life of the school.’
In 2009, due to the age and size of the school, the school board decided to convert Woodruff Elementary to a pre-k center that would save the district approximately $1.4 million in annual costs. Now it became even more important to try and document a day at the school before it closed.
The Woodruff DVD is a documentary, a presentation in two parts – the past and the present. The oldest standing school in the Little Rock district, the three story building was constructed in 1917. The first class was taught under a tent waiting for the building to be completed. In the 1970s as the school was becoming an “inner city” school and gangs begin to infiltrate the neighborhood, the principal and teachers began to think about how they could provide a safe atmosphere where their students could learn. They called an all-school meeting and sat in a large circle talking with the students about how the school could act as a family and work together to build a safe and happy community.
Out of that meeting grew a culture that valued respect for each other and valued peaceful resolution of conflicts. In fact, they erected a sign that announced each day how many days they had gone without a fight. From day one students learned to "attack the problem, not the person".
Students and teachers have been counting fight free days since 1989 and are always sad when a record is broken. Young lives have been changed forever with their newly acquired skills to resolve conflicts and accept differences.
The video ends with the whole school enjoying a picnic at a riverside park after walking across the Big Dam Bridge over the Arkansas River in celebration of their last 300 days of going without a fight.
We hope the documentary will inspire other schools to implement elements of this program in the school setting – whether elementary, middle or high school – to help children and teachers learn to respect each other and to take pride in their ability to control their emotions and appreciate each others differences. They might find, as Woodruff School did, that their program actually improves learning!
To order a copy of the DVD Woodruff : " A Lesson in Non Violence" produced by WAND, a Ron Blome Productions (time: 29 minutes) send $10.00 (includes shipping and handling)to
701 Hall Drive
Little Rock, AR 72205
501-663-1016 or email@example.com