Sarah Pirtle and the Discovery Center

Teachers and Schools


“Thanks for the four-day residency at our school. I wish we could clone you. There should be thousands of you. Every school should have a permanent Sarah Pirtle to show us all the things you do — conflict resolution, anti-bias, and simply listening really closely to children so they feel cared about.”
 — Susi Cummings, Arts in Education Director, Putnam Valley, N. Y.

“Sarah was a breath of fresh air. She helped me remember what teaching is all about.”
 — Cindy Langdon, Putnam Valley, NY

“Sarah is an extraordinary teacher. I’ve never seen anyone call forth the best in students in such a clear and gentle way.”
 — Jean Korstange, Guidance Counselor, Park Street School, Springfield, VT

“We’ve brought Sarah Pirtle to our town for many reasons. She’s a national expert in teaching students conflict resolution skills, and the activities she creates really work. She trained the faculty of our university’s education department. She can boil down key concepts and can translate important ideas into songs that children really like.

You can tell that she’s been working with children for years and years. She knows how to individualize everything she does whether it’s for kindergarteners or for parents. But what matters most to me is how she comes into a new group. She has an uncanny ability to join a group of people and become part of the community. People trust her. She makes you feel like we’re all going on a wonderful adventure together to figure out how to get along better.
 — Sue Liedl, Conflict Resolution Director, Bemidji, MN

Talk It Out School Programs

Contact Sarah to set up a school residency.

Other sections of the website provide more details:
Talk It Out

Funding for your school:

Sarah is a BOCES Arts in Education Presenter in New York State.

Sarah is listed on the Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Roster for Music.

Teacher Training Workshops

Teaching Conflict Resolution 

We look at three ways of helping children develop conflict resolution skills: (a) a clear procedure called “Talk It Out,” (b) communication methods and intervention strategies to use when conflicts occur, and (c) easy to learn songs that teach basic concepts such as “How Can We Be Friends Again?” and “When I Say Stop, I mean Stop.”

Just as we guide children to learn other skills like talking or tying their shoe, we will study why it’s important to use guidance instead of punishment to help with social skills; children have different reasons for “mistaken” behavior and we will look at how to respond to each effectively. The presentation will include many anecdotes and time-tested activities and songs.

Teaching Conflict Resolution Through Music 

Music takes children right to the heart of peacemaking. We’ll learn songs that teach communication skills like “How Can We Be Friends Again?” and “Talk to Me” and movement games that give children a chance to practice collaborating such as “Let’s Get Together.” Other songs open up conversations about anger, friendships, or how to look for options when there is a conflict. Sample activities illustrate how to adapt songs to the readiness of your group as we compare what is developmentally appropriate for the whole span of ages three to nine.

Music to Build Friendship: Developing the Peaceable Classroom

When children gather as a group, the joy of shared music and movement helps to build a feeling of closeness and community. Learn a dozen new songs that develop cooperation skills and awareness of others with starting songs like “Come Join in the Circle” and Hola/Hello,” and song games with movement such as “Shake, Shake, Freeze,” and “Paso a Paso/ Step by Step.” We’ll also learn songs with important messages like “We Won’t Leave Anyone Out” and “Peace is Me Being Me.” Find out methods of drawing out the children’s words and including them in the songs. Sarah creates a safe space for participation where she affirms that music belongs to each of us and has inspired teachers all over the country to believe in their voices.

Teaching Anti-Bias with Music and Movement 

We learn songs that affirm our diversity and our underlying unity with messages such as “You don’t have to be just like me to be my friend,” and “In the very middle you’re a lot like me.” We will learn how songs can be important teaching tools for aiding in discussion. For example, “Speak Up, We Need Your Voice” helps children promote fairness, and “Sing About Us / Cantemos” asks children to add their own ideas to the verses. We’ll also learn several bilingual songs in Spanish, and Native American songs from the Cahuilla and Serrano that incorporate movement.

Participants are invited to share a song from their own cultural tradition if they wish.

Two key teaching tools will be shared: (1) how to use music to establish a comfortable climate for affirming differences and (b) how to intervene when pre-prejudice erupts using a method Sarah created called INFORMATION + AFFIRMATION.