Graduation – Sound Discipline’s Identity and Values


What is the story of the 2021/2022 school year? Heads nod when I sum it up this way – this was a year like no other. The return to in-person learning as the pandemic raged on meant doing the best we could under constant stress, strain, and uncertainty. Teachers and administrators worked harder than ever. Community partners showed up in creative and responsive ways. Families leaned in to support their school communities.


Our students showed the effects of isolation and disconnection. The situation revealed what we’ve said through the years, but perhaps never really gotten to feel quite so viscerally: relationship, connection, and social emotional well-being make learning possible.


No one story captures it, and we were part of so many this year, partnering with more than twenty schools, and collaborating with scores of partners who dug deep to be responsive in extremely difficult circumstances. We are honored to have been by your side seeing your strengths, lifting up your insights, and helping you translate those insights into practical and transformational approaches in classrooms, homes, and workplaces.


Right now, we’re celebrating:

Reductions in punitive and exclusionary discipline,

Increases in reading scores,

Families learning emotional regulation and problem-solving skills from their first graders,

And school-wide cultures of repair, problem-solving, and celebration of student voice.


We are seeing major turnarounds for schools that did not dream change this deep could happen this fast, and schools that have done the long slow work of culture change over years.


Education is changing. We are fostering the conditions, building cultures, and taking apart and remaking systems that were designed to benefit a narrow, self-interested few, in favor of systems that serve all students’ well-being and brilliance.


Sound Discipline is changing too! This spring culminates a year-long process of reflection on our purpose, approach, and values. With your help (thank you to everyone who shared input!), we are proud to unveil our new identity and values statements:


Vision: We believe in a future where everyone thrives because they know they matter and belong.

Purpose: We build equitable communities that center the dignity, voice, and agency of young people.

Approach: We partner with schools and organizations to transform the ways adults teach, parent, and care for youth.



  • Connection: We are rooted in relationships.
  • Courage: We lead from the heart and challenge the status quo.
  • Liberation: We work together to create a world that works for everyone because our freedom, joy, and struggles are deeply connected.


These words are our compass. If they stir something in you, reach out for a conversation about what’s possible with your school, or your organization that serves young people.


Andrea John-Smith is the Executive Director of Sound Discipline.