BSM strives to discipline with dignity
Discipline is essential in order to maintain order. BSM strives to discipline students with dignity, allowing them to make their own decisions while facing the consequences of their actions.
May 25, 2018
Actions have consequences: an old adage that has been drilled into our heads since childhood. This classic adage applies at work, home, and sports, but most relevantly, at school. Disciplining at BSM is not only to keep order at school, but also is to teach students an appropriate manner in which to conduct themselves. It is designed with a simple motto in mind—discipline with dignity.
Although she is not involved in discipline in the classroom level, Assistant Principal and Junior and Senior Dean Ms. Mary Andersen is an expert on BSM’s discipline policies, stances, and beliefs. She says that the discipline style at BSM is meant to teach students, rather than simply behaving to avoid the consequences. “Philosophically, the discipline style is meant to be one of non-judgment,” Andersen said.
Andersen mentions that the prayer of the Act of Contrition relates to the discipline style at BSM. In the prayer, it states “I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heavens and the pains of Hell.” This prayer states that because of our sins, we fear the consequences. “Our Act of Contrition even, in our faith, uses the bad consequence as a deterrent to help with the behavior…We feel very strongly about actions equal consequences, and make your choice. So, decide if you want to follow the rule, but then take the consequences,” Andersen said.
BSM’s discipline policy has various factors that make it both alike and different from other schools nearby. Andersen says that BSM’s method of discipline is rather similar to most, but that the actions needing discipline are what differs. In a large public school, there are many more students, so every student is not familiar with each other. However, at BSM, the smaller population causes discipline issues. “If you talk about a big public school, and you are sitting in an English class with 30 kids, chances are, you are going to know maybe one or two people in your class. At BSM, chances are, you are going to know 90% of who is in your class. So, what discipline issues look like in the classroom at BSM are kids who are too familiar with each other, not paying attention, or talking while the teacher is…our discipline issues are quite different––just because everyone knows each other,” Andersen said.
Junior Sydney Johnson doesn’t see too many differences between BSM’s discipline policy and other schools’ policies. “I’d say [the discipline policy] is pretty comparable to other schools. I feel like every school has a harsher discipline policy. There’s some things that I think BSM might be a little bit more strict on, but overall, I think it’s pretty similar to other schools,” Johnson said.
While Johnson sees BSM’s discipline as equal to others, junior Allie Brooks believes the discipline prohibits more behaviors than other schools, particularly public schools. “I do think [BSM] is more harsh. Dress code violations, and phones…I know in a lot of public schools, you can be on your phone throughout the day…you can use it when you have free times or have breaks,” Brooks said.
Brooks recently was subject to BSM’s discipline policy on cell phones. Phones cannot be used throughout the day, and Brooks suffered the consequences. “Just last week, I got my phone taken away. I was on my phone in the Great Hall, and Ms. Andersen was there, but I didn’t see her. I looked up and she was staring right at me. I tried to bribe her with Taher cookies; I said that I would buy her Taher cookies if she let me off the hook, [but] she laughed and said, ‘maybe for one thousand dollars,’” Brooks said.
Every morning for a week, Brooks was required to drop her phone off before school and pick it up after school. She wasn’t a fan of the consequences, especially because she says her offense was relatively minor. “The thing is I wasn’t bothering anybody. I wasn’t doing anything to hurt anyone. I was sitting there, just doing my own thing. It wasn’t during class, so there wasn’t even a teacher talking. It was on my own free time,” Brooks said.
Not only can phones become a problem, but BSM students are busy, so absences and tardies can become a matter to be disciplined. In agreement with Andersen, sophomore Gus Pirkl says that tardies are a frequent reason for consequence. “[One of the most common offenses is] probably being tardy to class….I’ve seen so many people get pink slips to go see Mr. Yancy just from being tardy to a few classes,” Pirkl said.
Andersen says that the classroom behavior can also be a discipline issue. As a dean, she doesn’t typically become involved in classroom matters; however, at the end of the school year, behavior is getting more out of hand. “We believe in a three step approach. If it’s a classroom thing, the teacher should be dealing with the student first, bring the parent in next, and ask for the dean’s help third. That assures that by the time the dean gets involved, the partnership with the parent has been honored…This time of year, everyone is running out of patience, so I’ve spent a little more time in classes the last few weeks,” Andersen said.
While disciplining with dignity can be received by students in various ways, BSM’s discipline policy aims to teach students how to act, while still giving them freedom of their decisions and consequently, their actions. “Like most people, people don’t like to have a bunch of rules thrown at them. I think that’s why it’s important at BSM that students know what’s expected and yet still be allowed to decide if they’re going to live within those rules,” Andersen said.
BSM hires new Assistant Principal and Dean
With Assistant Principal and Junior and Senior Dean Ms. Mary Anderson retiring from BSM, Ms. Cami Dahlstrom was recently hired to join the BSM community as the new Freshman/Sophomore Dean and Senior High Assistant Principal.
Dahlstrom has worked as a teacher for fourteen years. Attending the University of Minnesota Duluth, Dahlstrom majored in biology and minored in chemistry. Dahlstrom received her Master’s degree in education at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, and she earned her Principal’s license at the University of St. Mary’s. She taught biology at Robbinsdale Cooper High School and was a principal for Robbinsdale’s summer program before coming to BSM. “I was looking for a little bit of a smaller setting and a community feel and I think I found it here,” Dahlstrom said.
To find Dahlstrom, the faculty and staff went through a thorough process to make sure that the best candidate would be taking over the position. After posting that they were looking for a new assistant principal, they did a little work of their own to find someone just right for the job. “The real secret to finding the right person is you have to go out and work your networks. So, you call people and ask who’s out there, who might be interested, who would you recommend, and then what you get [are] people who might not be looking for a job or looking to move, but yet if you tap them on the shoulder they would be interested in coming to the school,” Senior High Principal Dr. Susan Skinner said.
After applying, the applicants go through an interview process. A team of faculty and staff teamed together to interview the applicants. The applicants went through two rounds of interviews with the team, and after the interviews, they interviewed with Dr. Adam Ehrmantraut. “We check references and do sort of a full vetting of the applicant,” Skinner said.
Throughout the interview process, many characteristics are looked for in an applicant. The new assistant principal has to be a person that can fit into and benefit the BSM community. “When I think about the role of an assistant principal, I am looking for someone who supports students, wants the best for students, works hard for students and makes it their goal to help students grow and to learn. Someone who loves the school life buys into our mission, willing to go the extra mile for students and families and works well with teachers,” Skinner said.
Now with Dahlstrom as the new dean, Mr. Seborn Yancy, Assistant Principal and Freshmen and Sophomore Dean, will become the Junior and Senior Dean.
Skinner is ready for the future of having Dahlstrom at BSM. “I’m excited because she brings an energy that can really add to the value we have here. She likes high school students. She has a proven track record of working well with students and parents. She loves the mission. She is a faith-filled woman and so I think when she comes in the fall, she’ll feel at home pretty quickly. She wants to make those connections, she’s very collaborative. She is always looking for ways to best serve students and families,” Skinner said.
Dahlstrom is ready to join the BSM community. “Everybody I’ve met has been super welcoming so that’s really exciting. Everybody’s pretty laid-back here but it feels like students are very focused and driven which I’m excited to see and feel and witness,” Dahlstrom said.