Dr. George Johnson School

*Thanks to Principal Jim Gibbs at Dr. George Johnson School for submitting this testimonial!*

 Peer mediators at
Dr. George Johnson School

In the spring of 2006, Dr. George Johnson School in Gimli, Manitoba, Canada, received recognition as a member of PSI through our efforts to meet the PSI membership criteria. The PSI membership flag is now proudly displayed in our school gymnasium and many of the initiatives undertaken during the school year of 2005-06 are still present at our school.

I became principal of Dr. George Johnson School in the fall of 2005. At that time, the school was a recently designated middle school. There was concern from staff and parents, that the school had too many students being suspended from school, and lacked a sense of identity. I heard of PSI from another school in our district (Arborg Early Middle School) who was a member school and then sought out information from PSI’s web site to support our school reform initiative. As per PSI suggestions, we formed a school based team consisting of staff, students and parents, surveyed our staff, students and parents, and collected reams of data about behavior and student activities.

Specifically, we used the following criteria – much of which was taken from PSI support materials – to evaluate our school environment:

  • Strong, visionary leadership
  • Collaborative approach to school-based decision making
  • Clearly establish rules and expectations
  • Community Service Projects
  • Peace Education Initiatives
  • Treating students according to their needs
  • Lots of extra-curricular activities
  • Introduction of peer mediation
  • Opportunities for student leadership
  • Professional development for staff

Led by this roadmap, and other PSI resources, the school has undergone a dramatic and positive transformation over the following 5 years. Don’t take my word for it however, the chart below was produced by our local Interlake Regional Health Authority based upon surveys conducted with students in 2005 and 2009 – covering the period before and well after our PSI partnership.

Indicators 2009 2005
 Feel close to people at this school  88%  79%
 Feel like I am a part of this school  93%  81%
 I am happy to be at this school  88%  69%
 Feel safe in my school  92%  76%
 Feel safe in my community  96%  *
 Feel safe in my home  96%  *
 Have at least 1 close friend that I can share things with  97%  *
 Feel my family supports me  94%  *
 Feel involved in my community  77%  *
 Feelings of hopelessness  28%  37%
* Question not asked in 2005

In conclusion, I am very grateful for the support we have received from PSI and I heartily endorse and continue to support the important work they are doing with schools across the world.

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