You might not think of a middle school counselor as a “seat-of-the-pants peacemaker.” If your child is facing daily bullying, you might see him in a different light. If your child is withdrawing from life, suddenly uncommunicative, maybe you think about talking to the school administration. If you are lucky, you will find someone like Matthew Kuehlhorn.
Matthew Kuehlhorn is a Colorado middle school counselor who is passionate about helping create a community of care in schools. He is exploring ways of implementing Restorative Justice methods in his workplace — your child’s school. At my invitation, he submitted the following. Recent postings in fairnessworks.p1r8.net have featured examples of programs which implement restorative, peacemaking methods. Matthew’s efforts are a timely example of what an individual can do to help create peace.
Matthew is passionate about a graphic novel entitled, Bully. I hope you will check this out and find ways to implement his peacemaking passions into your own local school.
Bully is an educational illustrated novel.
The book is designed to “Ignite the Voice Within” classroom, as he terms it. Bully is an illustrated novel that teaches relationship building skills and introduces restorative justice practices and theory.
Bully is an amazing story where characters talk directly to middle school readers. The story is emotionally charged and very real for students in today’s classrooms.
After speaking with an educator who used this book in individual sessions, Matthew says, she remarked:
“I have had readers tell me that they have not finished a book in five years. They love this book and have a high interest in finishing it. The book offers great conversation topics which can affect student behavior in our school–for the better!”
Students report this book being like “real life” and the feedback has been amazing.
Bully is 130 pages, which are broken into five sections with “Ignite Now” lessons offered. Lessons teach: how to listen, how to tell our story so it gets heard, how to feel empathy, and the book concludes with introducing talking circles and restorative justice.
The book is authored by Teresa Milbrodt, a published short story author and Creative Writing Professor at Western State College of Colorado. Compelling illustrations were created by Nathan Kubes, a freelance artist, also in Gunnison, CO.
What other people say about Bully:
“I had students, who had not finished a book in years, unable to put this book down.”
Middle School English Teacher
“This is like Real Life”
7th Grade Student
“I recommend this book for students, parents, teachers, counselors, administrators and those people interested in education.”
Dr. Tom Cavanagh
Dr. Cavanagh, whose current focus is on creating a “Culture of Care” in schools, has published a review of Bully which can be viewed at:
If you are a school teacher or counselor, and have ideas about reaching the potential peacemakers in your local community, please share your comments below. I’d suggest this mental exercise: what Google searches would your students’ parents enter to find help for their concerns troubled teens?