Dave Perry Gives Students Tools for Conflict

Special Education Teacher, Social Studies Teacher & Restorative Practices Coordinator  //  Cloquet Area Alternative Learning Program  //  Cloquet School District


Addressing the root of the conflict

At Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program (CAAEP), student engagement rates are often low and conflict is often high. Perry brings an approach to the Cloquet School District that embraces tribal tradition while maximizing student engagement.

Before introducing Restorative Practices at CAAEP, Perry said suspention rates could be over 50 percent at any given time. Students would be suspended for a few days, then came back into the same tension-filled environment with no resolution. Restorative practices is a different approach that focuses on repairing harm through inclusive processes that bring together students and educators. Perry has led the charge on restorative practices at CAAEP.

At any given time, a student, teacher, parent, or staff member can call a “circle.” A restorative circle is a technique that builds and restores relationships through equal opportunity sharing and listening – both the offender and the offended – have the same opportunity to share. When someone calls a circle, Perry’s day shifts almost immediately to address the situation and ensure that everyone involved feels seen and heard.

Perry’s success with restorative practices at CAAEP stems from the foundation of trust he has with his students.

“Kids are the most intuitive people on the planet,” says CAAEP Principal Connie Hyde. “And when they meet Dave, you can just see it in their eyes, they have trust.”

Perry treats every student as if they’re his favorite. He loves seeing his students drop their guard and open up in a way they haven’t been able to at school before. His care for each student is evident in the way he shows up for them. Perry is a resource, a constant for his students and supports them and helps them move forward in their journey.

Educator of Excellence

MREA honors Perry as a 2022 Educator of Excellence for his innovation, dedication, and unwavering commitment to get results for his students. See more stories of Educators for Excellence.