The Greater Holy Temple Christian Academy (GHTCA), opened by Pastor James DeShazer in 2003 is a private, Milwaukee Parental Choice K-8 school that educates a 98 percent economically disadvantaged population. Upon his untimely death in 2015, Pastor DeShazer was succeeded by his son Edward DeShazer. Since he became Executive Director, the GHTCA’s State Report Card score has risen by over 16 percent.
Being one of the higher-performing schools in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the school currently houses more than 600 students each year. To boost the academic performance of the students as well as have overall school achievement, Executive Director Edward DeShazer thinks that restorative practices play a significant role, and schools should adopt this practice.
Restorative practice is a strategy that mends broken relationships among students due to bullying and other circumstances that weaken the sense of community in a school. With the teachers as mediators, they get to understand what damaged the relationship and resolve the situation accordingly. Restorative practice in school also builds trust between teachers and students. It is thereby improving the atmosphere of the classrooms and hallways in the school.
Results of effective restorative practice methods show that students start enjoying school, learn efficiently, and eventually lead better lives. However, schools have focused on and promoted punitive discipline for a long time. This traditional measure has been difficult to challenge, given that the education sector primarily uses this method. As a result, schools rarely have a defined program to help the teaching staff build meaningful relationships with their students.
In light of this unfortunate condition, Edward DeShazer attended training and several workshops to become a certified trainer for restorative practices and teacher motivation. He uses the knowledge he gained to educate his staff and other schools regarding restorative practice. In his weekly podcast, Teacher’s Ed Podcast, he shares restorative practice tips and techniques as well as motivates educators to be passionate in their profession.
To further share his knowledge on restorative practice, he volunteered to be a part of the Executive Committee for the Closing the Achievement Gap Consortium (CAGC). With 38 members from public and private schools in southeastern Wisconsin, the CAGC invites determined school leaders to brainstorm and develop creative solutions to prevent bullying while narrowing the racial gap in the member-school systems. Active participation from various school leaders helps ensure that social justice rings throughout every school.
Being a school’s executive director, he holds himself responsible for educating both students and teachers in Milwaukee and aims to create a safe, caring, supportive, and positive learning environment. Repairing relationships and strengthening their school community is only one of the many ways that GHTCA’s leadership meets its goal.
In formulating their policies, GHTCA puts its students first. Considering the progressive philosophy of the school’s leadership, coupled with its enthusiastic teachers, the students cultivated in this school will not only be critical thinkers and leaders but also be more self-sufficient and empowered. They plan to inspire the diverse population in striving for academic excellence and contribute to society. As educators, GHCTA genuinely cares for all of its students.To enroll or know more about GHTCA’s mission and educational philosophy, visit their website.