and see what the
fun is all about!
At Peaceful Schools, we are committed to employing high quality staff from diverse backgrounds and experiences. The materials and training that we provide have been developed with input and expertise from numerous Peaceful Schools throughout our history.
Meet our Executive Team:
Dr. Lura L. Lunkenheimer, Ed.D. - President/CEO
With a Masters' Degree in Counseling & Psychological Services, Lura is a staff development trainer with over twelve years experience in mediation, conflict resolution and positive behavioral interventions and supports. Before beginning her work with Peaceful Schools, Lura was a school psychologist with five years experience working in the public school system. Lura's professional preparation also includes clinical psychology and research support.
Lura started with Peaceful Schools in 2000 as an Associate Director in charge of student and staff training, curriculum development and program implementation. In 2003, Lura bought the business and in 2008 Peaceful Schools became the first graduate of Syracuse University's South Side Innovation Center Small Business Incubator.
As the President of Peaceful Schools, Lura has received a number of honors including the YWCA Eliminating Racism, Empowering Women Award and the Small Business Administrations Excellence in Small Business Award. Lura was a featured innovator on WCNY's Innovations in Education broadcast and a panelist and presenter for the New York State Education Department Conference: The Afterschool Experience. Most recently Lura was recognized by Worldwide Who's Who Registry of Executives, Professionals and Entrepreneurs 2012-2013 Edition.
In addition to her work with Peaceful Schools, Lura volunteers for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Central New York Out of School Time Network and is a New York State After-School Network Regional Representative. She is also certified by the Asia Society to provide professional development in Global Competency education.
Dani Ryan - Vice President of Communications
A leading member of the Peaceful Schools team since 2001, Dani is proud to share that she has had the privilege of working and learning from over 350 classrooms. Dani's unique background experiences in performance education and theatre arts have helped shape the Peaceful Schools multi-sensory approach to engaging students as active participants in each lesson.
A 1998 graduate of the Communications and Theatre departments of SUNY Oswego, Dani had her sights set on a career in Musical Theatre performance. Following graduation, she began work as a children's theatre educator. Instructing children from ages 4-18 had an immense impact on her career goals and she began to develop an interest in the idea of working with children to improve social skills and build social competence. The idea of having a positive impact on youth development became a strong personal passion and Dani began to pursue opportunities to combine her talents with her passion for education. Peaceful Schools provided Dani the outlet she was looking for to develop and deliver social emotional programming for youth.
In her tenure at at Peaceful Schools, Dani has presented over 4000 sessions of the Peaceful People program in Pre-K-8 settings. Her experience in the classroom has continued to shape the way Peaceful Schools approaches the curriculum development process. In addition to her classroom experience, Dani has received extensive training in Mediation, Classroom Management, Social Skill Development and has received Trainer Certification in the Safe Dates program. In addition Dani has been a managing member of the Peaceful Schools team since 2007 and has been trained and certified by ADEPT Management Systems. Dani is proud to be an educator for Peaceful Schools and looks forward to guiding the new online community to help create socially responsible, resilient youth!
Dave Reckess - Vice President of Curriculum Development
Dave's life as a teacher began with his first job as a tennis instructor at age 16. In the years since, Dave has taught ecology to young children, led high school students on outdoor adventures, facilitated cooperation and dialogue among teens from global regions of conflict, and built caring classroom environments as an elementary school teacher. While the settings have changed, Dave’s commitment to providing kids with authentic, challenging, and enriching learning opportunities has remained constant.
Dave came to Peaceful Schools with a Master of Science in Teaching degree from the State University of New York at Cortland, and currently holds a New York State Teacher Certification, Grades 1-6. With Peaceful Schools, Dave has taught the Peaceful People curriculum in pre-K through 8th grade classrooms, conducted mediations, implemented schoolwide peace projects, and mentored students in small-group settings to hone their resiliency skills in social situations. Dave is also involved with curriculum and website development, video editing, drafting literature guides, and supporting the growing community of Peaceful Schools members.
Shawn Forster – Artistic Director
Shawn has been a creative force on the Peaceful Schools team since 2003. Shawn brings with him a wealth of artistic and theatrical skills and enthusiasm through his experience as a performer on national and regional theatre tours, and as an award-winning director.
With Peaceful Schools, Shawn has combined his passion for theatre and education to engage students through thousands of sessions of the Peaceful People program as well as through Mediation and one on one skill building sessions. Shawn was born with physical challenges that have motivated him to find avenues to teach diversity and acceptance in any way possible. In his current role as Artistic Director, Shawn is excited to use his talents to bring theatrical productions to schools that educate and engage students and teachers on the topics of peace and kindness.
Meet some of our Restorative Practices Coaches who are providing expert technical assistance to support the behavioral health of staff, students and systems in schools:
Sue Clark - Restorative Practices Coach
Sue possesses a great deal of employment experience and educational training in social work and the human services field. She received Bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Public Justice from S.U.N.Y. Oswego. Following graduation, she worked as a Public Health social worker in Oswego County and then as a human services worker in a Syracuse area Skilled Nursing Facility. After earning her Master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Administration from Syracuse University, Sue was a therapist in a private area counseling agency before finding employment with the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) as a school social worker. She had the opportunity to work at several schools in the district, including Porter, Frazer K-8, Franklin, Bellevue and Edward Smith K-8. Along the way she earned her CAS in Educational Administration from Syracuse University.
Sue thoroughly enjoyed her 30-year career as a social worker in the SCSD. While there, she served on numerous teams, including: Pupil Services Team; Student/Staff Support Team; Positive Behavior Interventions and Support Team; School Based Intervention Team; School Leadership Team; School Discipline Team and the Crisis Response Team. Sue worked with individuals and groups of students toward addressing social, emotional and academic needs. She collaborated with her colleagues, her students and their families to develop FBAs and BIPs for students in need of such behavioral support. She advocated for students with special needs and their families. Sue also served as a school representative with the Syracuse Teachers’ Association.
Sue has a passion for working with Syracuse City students, families and educators. She feels fortunate to have had the experiences afforded her through her work in Syracuse Schools. Sue is excited to continue her involvement in urban education and advocacy in her position as External Coach with Peaceful Schools.
Our Western New York Staff Includes:
Our Program Staff Includes:
Joanna Thompson - Regional Coordinator, Western New York
Upon graduation from SUNY Fredonia with a Bachelor’s degree in Childhood Education, Joanna began her career by teaching third grade at a private school in Amherst, NY. She taught there for eight years while she obtained her Master’s degree from SUNY Buffalo in Childhood Education with a concentration in mathematics. Joanna also has experience teaching kindergarten and middle school math.
Joanna then went on to be Site Coordinator for the 21st Century Program (an afterschool program) in the largest Buffalo City School. There she got to see the excitement of the children attending the afterschool program and the progress they made academically and socially.
Joanna also worked for many years at a large children’s outpatient mental health clinic in Western New York in a variety of positions. She worked as the Engagement Specialist to help engage families to come for mental health treatment and overcome any barriers that might be in their way.
Joanna relocated to Syracuse and was so excited to join the Peaceful Schools team. There, she was able to combine her passion for teaching, involvement with working in a Children’s Mental Health agency and experience in city schools all into her new role as a Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) External Coach.
Recently, Joanna relocated back to the Western New York area where she grew up. She is now the Regional Coordinator of Western New York for Peaceful Schools. In this role, Joanna is helping with the Western New York tour of Have you Filled A Bucket Today? the Play, and is supporting the curriculum development of our Peaceful People online curriculum. Joanna is very excited about this wonderful professional opportunity and helping Peaceful Schools spread our wings into the Western New York area.
To meet the cast and creative team behind our production of Have You Filled a Bucket Today? The Play, click here.
Learn more about how our online Curriculum and Resources, our PBIS Technical Assistance Team, and our P.S. Productions Team can help you and your classroom, school or district.