A Conversation with Principal Stephen J. Hammond about Glasser Quality Schools

We sat down with Principal Stephen J. Hammond to discuss why Saint Patrick Catholic School is a Glasser Quality School and how Dr. William Glasser's approach to human behavior informs the unique model of education offered by Saint Patrick Catholic School.
Q: What does it mean to be a Glasser Quality School? 
It means that Saint Patrick Catholic School is dedicated to becoming a high-quality, needs satisfying learning environment for every child. It means that all community members consider the school a joyous place where they work, play, and study. Community members feel respected and valued. A Glasser Quality School teaches students how to make excellent choices that will help guide their success for a lifetime!

Q: What is Dr. William Glasser's Choice Theory?
Choice Theory is a theory of human behavior. It suggests that human behavior is purposeful and is an attempt to get one’s needs met with the resources available. A study of Choice Theory is a marvelous way to teach children to understand others and their own selves better. It helps strengthen every kind of relationship and increases empathy and compassion necessary for becoming strong servant leaders.

Q: How does choice theory fit into our faith-based total formation curriculum?
Choice Theory emphasizes the importance of making excellent win-win decisions. In understanding why people behave the way they do, children learn to be more empathic, forgiving and compassionate. These virtues are foundational to Christ’s gospel and assist children to become better mediators, problem solvers, and servant leaders.

Q: Can you give a concrete example of how a teacher can use Choice Theory/Success Planning with a student?
Interesting question. We’ve already discussed what Choice Theory is. Success Planning is simply a problem-solving method designed to help people achieve goals. The classroom is a complex social community of members attempting to get along with each other. Teachers asking students to reflect upon the needs they are trying to meet in both helpful and unhelpful behaviors give children a chance to either decide to change or keep their behavior. If they decide to change their behavior, they would use Success Planning in determining how they would do it. Teachers and staff use this method many times a day to allow children to reflect upon their behavior and change it if necessary.

Q: In a Glasser Quality School, what defines quality work?
First, quality is giving 100% to the task. Second, quality respects relationships. Third, quality always improves. Fourth, quality always feels good.

Q: Why is it important to eliminate fear in an educational environment?
Like all other human beings, when children are afraid, they go into a fight or flight response. Neither of these responses is conducive to learning. When children are relaxed and joyful, on the other hand, their brains are open and eager to learn new things. This is as true for children as it is for adults and a primary reason why we work hard to achieve a joyful school environment.

Q: Is Saint Patrick Catholic School a joyful place and why? 
Being a joyful place is one of the key tenets of a Glasser Quality School. I absolutely love what I do and hope that everyone else, in whatever role they play within the school, feels the same way. In an interface between the Catholic-Christian faith and Choice Theory, the school teaches the JOY Principle asking students to consider Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself third. In a materialistic society where so many voices tell children that their happiness is found in "things," it is so good for them to have a place in their lives that teaches them that, truly, joy is found on the inside and they have a choice in attaining it. So, consider Jesus (what is good and right), then others (pulling them out of a me-ism culture) and then yourself (balancing your needs with that of the common good).