It's just after nap time at Cambridge Early Learning Center, and the young students there can be found rested up and ready for fun.
The 160 pre-K students there have been a very diverse group, making it an ideal school to model fairness in discipline and behavior support. The school was chosen as one of two across the nation by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
"We are really going to try and tap into their social, emotional experiences here at school," Principal Deeanne Miree said when NewsChannel 5 visited the school Wednesday.
Students will be taught different and key fundamentals on how to cope with challenging situations and behaviors.
"Behavior is always an expression of a need, so we're teaching them to express that need in a more constructive, healthier, socially appropriate manner," said school counselor, Ashley Lofties.
However, before that the staff will go through extensive training in a model called the Pyramid Equity Project: the framework for early social and emotional learning. The goal has been to find ways to prevent unequal disciplinary bias.
"We are seeing children of color being not only suspended more often but the way challenging behavior is addressed, it's not equitable across the board," Lofties said. She has an extensive background in the pyramid model and which students have been disciplined most. "I think it's a reflection of society. It's a reflection of unfortunate biases that society holds."
As school districts across the nation have started working through these challenges, they'll look to Cambridge ELC as a model for the best practices.
"I really, really hope that we can be the model, and then we can see this gradually go out into our elementary and then we'd love to see it carry over with middle and high school," Miree said.
Implementation of the new behavior model has been expected to begin in early October.