MNPS Voices: Nicholas Patterson

Nicholas Patterson, Restorative Practices Manager at Jere Baxter Middle School
Posted on 09/09/2021
Nicolas Patterson

Nicholas Patterson discovered the impactful work happening in MNPS classrooms through a member of his church congregation. The experiences he heard through their conversations affected him so much, he felt called to work at Metro Schools himself.

Patterson is now not only a pastor, husband and father to a 9-month-old baby girl but also a restorative practice manager at Jere Baxter Middle School. Restorative Practice schools create a model of intentional practicesN patterson that refocus traditional discipline approaches to responses that promote accountability through intervention strategies. That means teaching students how to channel emotions properly, creating appropriate spaces to reflect on their actions and using specific questions to resolve conflicts.
Restorative work also involves peer-to-peer relationships to bring down behavioral referrals.

“I have seen a major change in our scholars’ behavior with restorative practices,” Patterson said. “And because they know how to have a restorative conversation, they can sometimes resolve conflicts between themselves without me intervening. They are doing a phenomenal job with it.”

All behavior incidences are documented by the staff member and the student so that data and improvements can be tracked to measure success. This also allows scholars to write down accountability statements and goals for themselves to reference in the future.

When Patterson began his work at school, the biggest surprise was the lack of male adults in the building. He was inspired to start a club focused on young male students engaging in important conversations and holding each other accountable.

Patterson leads by example by dressing professionally when he comes to work, even if he is overdressed compared to colleagues. Much of the restorative work is about having honest conversations with students, making sure they feel known and respecting them like adults, something Patterson and the other staff at Jere Baxter model every day.

“I tell them I dress up like who I want to be, what I want to make and for the respect I want to receive,” Patterson said.

While restorative practices are beneficial to use at school, they can also be implemented at home. Patterson encourages parents to get connected with these questions to give their children the opportunity to express themselves when a behavior incident occurs.

• What happened?
• How did it make you feel?
• Why did you do what you did?
• How did this situation impact you?
• How were other people impacted? (including the parent, who shares how they feel about their child’s action: It made me sad, it hurt my feelings, etc.)
• What are we going to do to make sure this never happens again?
• How can I support you to meet these goals?

Post-pandemic, students lost many of their routines and rules that in-person school supported, so this year Jere Baxter focuses on meeting students where they are, reminding them of those routines and rewarding them with incentives. Patterson celebrates student successes no matter how small, and he always finds a way to spotlight things students are doing right instead of just the wrong.

“The best part of my job is knowing I made a mark on a student’s life,” he said. “I still get emails thanking me years later, and it means so much to me.”

Patterson also appreciates the people he works with at Jere Baxter, saying his coworkers are some of the “most phenomenal professionals with a great class of experience, tenure and passion, who work hard every day to make a safe and conducive environment for our scholars.”


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