Date of Award

Summer 6-4-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Daphne Hubbard-Berry

Committee Chair

Dr. Corrie Davis

Second Committee Member

Dr. Neporcha Cone


While many schools are spending millions on instructional programming, new technology, and colorful chart paper for data walls, an area that often takes a back seat to improving achievement is the social and emotional learning of students (SEL). Until the education community starts focusing on the well-being of our students, closing the achievement gap will continue to be a nice catch phrase and not a reality. The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of K-8 teachers to determine how they felt about the use of Restorative Justice, with a focus on Peace Circles. This study explored this alternative approach to discipline and how social and emotional learning can be used to improve school culture and school safety while addressing the clear racial disparities in punitive consequences given to Black males. The participants in this study included nine classroom teachers, one ENCORE teacher, and a support staff member. This study aimed to answer two questions:

  1. To what extent do professional development workshops influence teachers’ knowledge and perceptions of restorative justice for discipline?
  2. What are teachers’ early experiences using Peace Circles in their classrooms?

Ultimately, the need to care for the whole child needs to be at the forefront of decision making when disciplinary choices are made in schools. By putting the human back in humanity when dealing with students, especially our Black males, the education community can truly help all students succeed.