St. Teresa launches new program to teach self-discipline

It's a discipline program used in 850 schools across the United States. It's in Lutheran schools. It's in Catholic schools. It's in Episcopalian and public schools.

Now it's in Nevada.

Staff at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic school will undergo two days of training Monday and Tuesday in the "Discipline with Purpose" program developed by two women from Omaha, Neb.

"This is the first time that we're going into Nevada," said co-founder Barbara Vasiloff, who has a master of arts degree in religious education from Creighton University in Omaha. "(St. Teresa) will be the first to begin the process. It's in Arizona, in California, and this will be the first in Nevada."

St. Teresa staff will begin sharing the program with its students in the fall. The program's primary objective its to teach students to handle impulses by learning to wait before responding. Nineteen St. Teresa staff are planning to attend the 10-hour seminar, according to St. Teresa Principal Rick Redican.

"It will give the teachers and students one complete program that they can learn, and all the teachers will teach the same skills," he said.

About 26 people are signed up for the workshop and there is still more space.

"Today one of the real needs is the issue of anti-bullying curriculum," Vasiloff said. "We show the teachers which of the skills are missing when students act in that way. We deliberately tackle those skills through lesson planing."

Vasiloff co-founded "Discipline with Purpose" with Paula Lenz, and the foundations are based on research by Dr. Laurel Tanner, author of the 1978 book "Classroom Discipline."

"She thought teachers were teaching their students to be compliant and weren't talking at all about self-reliance and self-discipline. Self-esteem is something different than that and grows out of students tackling and accomplishing something."

The two-day conference is open to the public at a cost of $225 per person or $195 for two or more people from the same business.

Vasiloff visited Northern Nevada two years ago to introduce area schools to the program. St. Teresa's Redican attended.

"We were thinking about getting doing it last year and we couldn't get it done," he said. "This year we're getting it done."

After 19 staff at St. Teresa is trained in "Discipline with Purpose," a committee will be formed to set quarterly goals for the school community.

"We seem to be more goal-driven because we have to have some way to measure the progress," Vasiloff said. "If you never identify what it is you're trying to do, you can't empower people to do any work on their own.

"That's the problem with self-discipline. No one has ever developed the framework."

The program takes three to five years to fully implement at a school. The program, founded in 1988, is also used by Vasiloff at shelters.

"We do some work in homeless shelters with adults who have gotten into situations where they need to reinvent themselves," she said. "The first things we ask them to do is to look at the skills, and see which ones they have mastered and which ones they have struggled with. Some of them are missing the basic skills."

The program can be used in a variety of ways, and some schools feature one or two skills each month.

"It's driven by the students' own perception of how they want to grow up and want to improve," she said.

n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at or 881-1219.

Discipline with purpose

What: Discipline with purpose two-day seminar

When: Monday and Tuesday

Where: St. Teresa of Avila School, 567 S. Richmond Ave.

Cost: $225 per person, $195 for two or more people from the same agency

Information: Call the school at 882-1968, or 1-800-691-4397 or download registration forms at


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