Gang Leader to Graduate: A Conscious Discipline Transformation

Born in LaCombe, Louisiana to a 14 year old mother and a 16 year old father, DJ Batiste was raised by his grandmother. From a very early age, he demanded the attention of those around him. From an early age, fighting became his favorite past time. Any opportunity for a disagreement turned into a physical altercation for DJ. He loved the attention that fighting drew. The crowds at school were specifically enticing because DJ was amongst his peers.  At age four, he was kicked out of Head Start. At thirteen, he found himself in Juvenile Detention. Throughout his early teenage years, he was leader of a violent gang in Mississippi. The Criminal Justice Center couldn’t reach him. Being expelled from alternative school was not enough to get his attention.  Each experience presented a greater challenge and platform for DJ to seek the type of attention that he thrived for… until he met “Mrs. P.” his senior year.

For more information on DJ’s transformation, take a moment to watch this video:

Our very own Gerald Cahee had the opportunity to personally listen to DJ Batiste’s testimony at Mississippi Early Childhood Education (MECA) in Jackson, Mississippi. “It was a truly inspiring and positive experience to personally listen to his testimony.” Gerald went on to say that DJ was excited to hear that Frog Street’s curriculum incorporates Conscious Discipline.  According to Gerald’s experience as a Frog Street employee, “Frog Street’s research-based Pre-K Program nurtures a child’s social-emotional behavior while enhancing their academic experience. Frog Street Pre-K is comprehensive, integrated, and intentionally focused on building specific skill sets in children. To take it a step further, Frog Street Pre-K integrates Conscious Discipline into the program. In essence, children are equipped with a well-rounded program that meets and exceeds state standards across the nation. Going back to DJ’s testimony, we see that his story is one of strength. It is important to understand that Mrs. Porter was equipped to reach DJ due to the elements and principles of Conscious Discipline. In terms of my personal experience, I was excited about Frog Street’s curriculum, but also their incorporation of Conscious Discipline. I have witnessed to the impact of Frog Street’s program on children in the classroom, where many of these practices take place. I’m a firm believer that practicing something in repetition enforces a habit. Habits become part of one’s lifestyle. I can definitely see value in the instillment of these disciplines through early childhood education. For that reason, Frog Street will continue to grow its footprint in education.”

Gerald Cahee is a Sales Representative for Frog Street. His role allows him to spread the news about Frog Street, while building relationships with school districts and Head Start Programs across Louisiana and Mississippi. For more information on his experience with DJ, he can be reached at

For Donna Porter’s work with Conscious Discipline, she was honored at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. This honor was a result of DJ’s nomination of her close work with him. The prestigious teaching award is given in the name of Broadway icon Stephen Sondheim. In a CBS interview, DJ’s testimony brought tears to Sondheim’s eyes. As Sondheim wiped away his joyful tears, he said, “You watch in action what a teacher can do. Look at the pride on his face…. that joy… I don’t think that I’ve ever been that happy in my life.”




Meeting the Standards with Nursery Rhymes

Rigor, standards, and testing- oh my! Somewhere along the way nursery rhymes have fallen by the wayside. Did you know that nursery rhymes provide opportunities to develop many important academic skills? Their rich language, rhythm, and rhyme help young children develop an awareness of sounds that creates a strong foundation for future reading success.

Nursery rhymes are usually very short, which also makes them perfect for teaching skills such as identifying characters and setting, problem and solution, and beginning, middle, end. Do you know what else is very short? The attention span of a young child- it’s a win-win!

Here are some ways you can use nursery rhymes to teach academic skills:

Problem/Solution- Jack and Jill

Ask children what the problem is in this rhyme (they fell down). Ask them to brainstorm some things Jack and Jill might do to prevent them from falling next time. Record their responses on a large sheet of green paper cut in the shape of a hill. Look out- their answers just might surprise you!

Beginning, Middle, and End- Humpty Dumpty

  • What happened in the beginning of this rhyme? Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
  • What happened in the middle? Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
  • What happened at the end? They couldn’t put him together again

4 Corners Printable Game

I created this printable activity to help teach characters and story details to young children using nursery rhymes. Click on the image above to download your copy with instructions. The adorable images in this document are courtesy of Frog Street Press.

If you find this printable helpful leave some comment love below, pin it, like it and shout it from the rooftops! Don’t forget to check out the great nursery rhyme resources here at Frog Street Press. Maybe if you’re really nice they will consider creating a nursery rhyme app!

Vanessa Levin is the creator of Pre-K Pages and author of the book A Fabulous First Year and Beyond: A Practical Guide for Pre-K and Kindergarten Teachers. She has more than two decades of teaching experience and enjoys helping young children and teachers through her professional development sessions. You can follow Vanessa on Facebook, Google + and Pinterest.