Personal Development

OUR MISSION:To Change Student Behaviors
by helping teachers help students develop
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bullet Self-Discipline bullet Character
bullet Emotional Intelligence

An Approach that Works with At-Risk Students
Revised & Expanded—© 2011

A Book by Vicki Phillips

Empowering DisciplineMost school discipline programs have one thing in common: their primary goal is to control student behavior. This more or less works with the majority of students; however, there remains a group with whom control is not effective-so we label these students as "at-risk" and attempt to tighten our control over them.

The author of this book, Vicki Phillips, was principal of a school for at-risk students for twenty-two years. Since all of her students were at-risk, she had to come up with strategies which would work with them, which meant applying a non-traditional approach. After years of being successful with students labeled difficult by the mainstream, Vicki shares her approach in this book

Vicki calls for a shift in our thinking about the issue of control. She claims that when schools escalate their attempts at control, many students will in turn escalate their behavior. If they see no future for themselves and feel they have nothing to lose, and if their primary need is to appear "clever, impressive, and free" in front of their peers, "control" becomes counter-productive. Such students predictably "lock into" power struggles, causing them to spiral downhill. In contrast, Vicki's strategies recognize the need of most at-risk students to be self-directed, and they work with students instead of against them.

Vicki is the author of PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT, a one-semester curriculum designed to build respect, responsibility, and resiliency in at-risk adolescents. It is currently in use in hundreds of schools nationwide. She is also the author of TURNING THEM AROUND: DEVELOPING MOTIVATION, RESPONSIBILITY, AND SELF-DISCIPLINE IN AT-RISK YOUTH. She now presents educator workshops throughout the country.


"Vicki Phillips' book EMPOWERING DISCIPLINE provides what every classroom teacher needs these days: practical strategies and perspectives to help kids who aren't happy campers in school discover their true strengths and abilities. Her book can save teachers from wasting time on externally-controlling discipline systems, and help them turn the 'at-risk' student into the 'at-promise' learner!"

"Finally! A discipline model that blends the needs of at-risk students, indeed all students, and the kinds of teacher behaviors that can make school an exciting and emotionally safe place for everyone. If you are looking for effective, positive, and preventative ways to deal with disruptive behavior, rebelliousness, resistance, passive learning, and problems of student dropout or truancy, you'll find answers here."
--Jane Bluestein, PhD.,
author of 21st CENTURY DISCIPLINE: Teaching Students Responsibility & Self-Control and

"Vicki Phillips clearly understands at-risk kids and their powerful need to make their own choices regardless of whether the choices get them in trouble. EMPOWERING DISCIPLINE is an exciting practical tool for anyone working with 'discipline resistant' kids because it gives step-by-step directions for how to get the most resistant kids to make good choices about their behavior as well as their school work. If you ever wondered what in the world to say or do with an oppositional teenager, EMPOWERING DISCIPLINE is the help you need."
--Joyce Divinyi, M.S.,
Licensed Professional Counselor & National Certified Counselor, Director of The Wellness Connection, author of SUCCESSFUL STRATEGIES FOR WORKING OR LIVING

"This book is rich with proactive examples of how teachers of youth at-risk can move from power struggles and punitive strategies to respect and responsibility. The author draws from her broad experience in developing effective alternative education programs for our most challenging students."
--Larry Brendtro, PhD.,
Professor, Director of the Black Hills Seminars for Reclaiming Youth & co-author of RECLAIMING YOUTH AT-RISK

"In the twenty-four years I have been using Temperament Theory in my work as a school psychologist, therapist, and organizational consultant, I have found few who have such a wealth of successful hands-on experience in providing positive experiences for at-risk youth. Vicki Phillips has deeply understood the nature of the Artisan (SP) temperament and how that nature shows up in at-risk youth. She has brilliantly recognized how what we do to people of this temperament in the schools is actually making them at-risk and creating more problems than it cures. More than that, she has developed a prevention and intervention program that WORKS WITH and FOR THE BENEFIT OF these students. School administrators, teachers, counselors, and parents should ALL read EMPOWERING DISCIPLINE and follow her lead."
--Linda V. Berens, PhD.,
Director, Temperament Research Institute, Author of UNDERSTANDING YOURSELF AND OTHERS: An Introduction to Temperament and other books on temperament

"Thank you Vicki Phillips for giving teachers not only the rationale but the tools and techniques for flipping the paradigm from risk to resilience in the area of classroom discipline. While most books on discipline have recently come under fire for their focus on external coercion and control, EMPOWERING DISCIPLINE reveals how discipline can become a protective factor in the lives of all students--especially those labeled 'at-risk.' Vicki clearly demonstrates that discipline can be used to create a safe, caring, respectful, and participatory classroom climate that, in turn, fosters the development of caring, respectful, responsible, and ultimately, resilient young people."
--Bonnie Benard, M.S.W.,
Researcher, Author, President of Resiliency Associates


Empowering Discipline  
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P.O. Box 203, Carmel Valley, CA 93924
Phone: (831) 659-5913 or
(888) 4 AT RISK
Fax: (831) 659-9109

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