BOOKS NOT GUNS—Gerri Sheffey displays her guides on anti-violence in the classroom. (Photo by J.L. Martello)


When it comes to the issue of violence, especially in the Black community amongst today’s youth, everyone has a different opinion on how to address it. Some believe the answers are found within community meetings, some believe it’s in marches and vigils, but one local educator believes the answers lie within the classroom.

Local professor Gerri (Holden) Sheffey, EdD, who recently released her book, “Students Against Violence: An Anti-Violence and Bullying Program,” has created a curriculum that addresses the needs of urban students at an early age, and the concern of increasing behavioral problems and decreasing test scores.

“It starts with younger children, this (curriculum) is all about prevention; you have to get these kids when they’re younger, because once they’re older it then becomes intervention,” Sheffey said. “I’ve been on the front lines, in the classrooms. This curriculum is teacher tested and it works, I know because I’ve done it.”

Through her educational consulting practice, Holden’s Teaching Solutions, Sheffey, an adjunct professor with Carlow University’s Graduate School of Education and former teacher and principal, has designed a curriculum for teachers, tutors and parents to use that provides effective ways for urban students to avoid gangs, violence and drugs, while improving their academic performance, behavior management and character development.

Her curriculum includes books and materials on violence prevention, anti-bullying, conflict management and responsibility education; step-by-step behavior management plans; and information on how urban students learn and the best way to educate them.

“I figured that if I could train the teachers, I could reach more students.”

Sheffey said although she would like to see her model in public schools, she is working more to implement it in churches, afterschool programs, and community organizations and clubs that work with children.

“I hear all the time how children are leaving school and bringing the violent behavior to the afterschool program,” she said. “If we put our efforts together, it will work. We (need) to train these children on how to get along, how to manage their conflicts and how not to be violent. And we need to give teachers a program that works and teach them how to utilize it.”

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