About Joy

Joy has worked as a teacher, trainer, and parent educator in various schools and corporate settings for over 18 years. Her experience teaching in both public and private schools, training managers in large companies and running an educational non-profit organization has helped her understand the unique needs of culturally, ethnically and socially diverse groups.

Most recently Joy delivers training and workshops internationally through Positive Discipline UK. Concurrently she also works as a secondary teacher at The American School in London, England, where she successfully implements Positive Discipline in the classroom and delivers teacher training and parent education courses within her school and community.

Joy was first introduced to Positive Discipline while training teachers to work with students in “at risk” schools throughout the boroughs of New York City. At the time she was the Program Director for an educational non-profit organization whose aim was to build resiliency in children. Joy’s own success using the Positive Discipline tools while teaching High School students at Rikers Island Jail is what motivated her to share these tools with others that spent their time with children that displayed extreme behaviour challenges. What she quickly realized is that every child is “at risk” of not fulfilling their true potential and that all children needed to learn these same life skills.

Joy’s Master Degree in Education from Hofstra University is secondary to the education and experience she has achieved from her successes and challenges as a teacher to thousands of students. Joy has a lifelong commitment and passion for child development and education. It is her mission to share her knowledge and experience with both teachers and parents around the globe.

What is Positve Discipline

Positive Discipline is a program based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs and designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful and resourceful members of their communities. Based on the best selling Positive Discipline books by Dr. Jane Nelsen and co-authors Lynn Lott, Cheryl Erwin and others, it teaches important social and life skills in a manner that is deeply respectful and encouraging for both children and adults (including parents, teachers, childcare providers, youth workers, and others).

Recent research tells us that children are “hardwired” from birth to connect with others, and that children who feel a sense of connection to their community, family, and school are less likely to misbehave. To be successful, contributing members of their community, children must learn necessary social and life skills. Positive Discipline is based on the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline teaches

Jane Nelsen gives the following criteria for “effective discipline that teaches”:


  • Is it kind and firm at the same time?
    Respectful and encouraging

  • Does it help children feel a sense of belonging and significance?

  • Is it effective long-term?
    Punishment works short term, but has negative long- term results

  • Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character?
    Respect, concern for others, problem-solving, accountability, contribution, cooperation

  • Does it invite children to discover how capable they are and to use their personal power in constructive ways?

The tools and concepts of Positive Discipline include:

Mutual respect - Adults model firmness by respecting themselves and the needs of the situation, and kindness by respecting the needs of the child.
Identifying the belief behind the behavior - Effective discipline recognizes the reasons kids do what they do and works to change those beliefs, rather than attempting to change behavior.
Effective communication and problem solving skills -Discipline that teaches (and is neither permissive nor punitive).
Focusing on solutions instead of punishment
Encouragement (instead of praise) - Encouragement notices effort and improvement, not just success, and builds long-term self-esteem and empowerment.

Unique characteristics of the Positive Discipline Model also include:

Teaching adults and students through experiential activities - Creating opportunity to practice new skills and to have fun learning by doing.
Classroom discipline programs and parent education programs that are consistent - Parents, teachers, and childcare providers can work together to provide a secure, consistent environment for children.
Inexpensive training and ongoing support so members of communities can teach each other Positive Discipline skills.
Certified trainers across the world who can work with schools and communities.


The Positive Discipline Parenting and Classroom Management Model is based on the work of Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs.* Dr. Adler first introduced the idea of parenting education to United States audiences in the 1920s. He advocated treating children respectfully, but also argued that spoiling and pampering children was not encouraging to them and resulted in social and behavioral problems. The classroom techniques, which were initially introduced in Vienna in the early 1920s, were brought to the United States by Dr. Dreikurs in the late 1930s. Dreikurs and Adler refer to the kind and firm approach to teaching and parenting as “democratic.”

In the 1980’s, Lynn Lott and Jane Nelsen attended a workshop facilitated by John Taylor.* Lynn began training interns to teach experientially and wrote (with the help of her interns) the first Teaching Parenting Manual. Jane was the director of Project ACCEPT (Adlerian Counseling Concepts for Encouraging Parents and Teachers), a federally funded project that had received exemplary status while in its developmental phase. Jane wrote and self-published Positive Discipline in 1981. It was published by Ballantine in 1987. In 1988, Jane and Lynn decided to collaborate on the book which is now titled, Positive Discipline for Teenagers, and began to teach parenting and classroom management skills experientially. Lynn and Jane also wrote Positive Discipline in the Classroom and developed a manual filled with experiential activities for teachers and their students.

In the years since, Positive Discipline series has grown to include titles that address different age groups, family settings, and special situations. Positive Discipline is taught to schools, parents, and parent educators by trained Certified Positive Discipline Associates. Community members, parents, and teachers are encouraged to become trained facilitators and to share the concepts of Positive Discipline with their own groups. Positive Discipline parent education classes are taught across the country, and Positive Discipline is successfully used as the classroom management model in private, religious, and public elementary schools. A demonstration school program is currently being developed.


Formal evaluation comparing Positive Discipline Schools with schools using other discipline programs is just beginning. However, studies of implementation of Positive Discipline techniques have shown that Positive Discipline tools do produce significant results. A study of school-wide implementation of classroom meetings in a lower-income Sacramento elementary school over a four-year period showed that suspensions decreased (from 64 annually to 4 annually), vandalism decreased (from 24 episodes to 2) and teachers reported improvement in classroom atmosphere, behavior, attitudes and academic performance. (Platt, 1979) A study of parent and teacher education programs directed at parents and teachers of students with “maladaptive” behavior that implemented Positive Discipline tools showed a statistically significant improvement in the behavior of students in the program schools when compared to control schools. (Nelsen, 1979) Smaller studies examining the impacts of specific Positive Discipline tools have also shown positive results. (Browning, 2000; Potter, 1999; Esquivel) Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that a student’s perception of being part of the school community (being “connected” to school) decreases the incidence of socially risky behavior (such as emotional distress and suicidal thoughts / attempts, cigarette, alcohol and marijuana use; violent behavior) and increases academic performance. (Resnick et al, 1997; Battistich, 1999; Goodenow, 1993) There is also significant evidence that teaching younger students social skills has a protective effect that lasts into adolescence. Students that have been taught social skills are more likely to succeed in school and less likely to engage in problem behaviors. (Kellam et al, 1998; Battistich, 1999)

Although specific studies of the Positive Discipline parenting program are in the early stages, programs similar to Positive Discipline have been studied and shown to be effective in changing parent behavior. In a study of Adlerian parent education classes for parents of teens, Stanley (1978) found that parents did more problem solving with their teens and were less autocratic in decision making. Positive Discipline teaches parents the skills to be both kind and firm at the same time. Numerous studies show that teens who perceive their parents as both kind (responsive) and firm (demanding) are at lower risk for smoking, use of marijuana, use of alcohol, or being violent, and have a later onset of sexual activity. (Aquilino, 2001; Baumrind, 1991; Jackson et al, 1998; Simons, Morton et al, 2001) Other studies have correlated the teen’s perception of parenting style (kind and firm versus autocratic or permissive) with improved academic performance. (Cohen, 1997; Deslandes, 1997; Dornbusch et al, 1987; Lam, 1997).

*Alfred Adler (1870 - 1937) was a Viennese psychiatrist who immigrated to the United States. Though a contemporary of Freud, he promoted a substantially different view of human behavior. Adler believed that behavior is not driven by events in the past, but moves toward a goal of belonging and significance that is influenced by each individual’s decisions about themselves, others, and the world. Rudolf Dreikurs (1897 - 1972), also a Viennese psychiatrist, was the director of one of the child guidance centers in Vienna that used Adler’s methods with families and classrooms. He immigrated to the United States to avoid Nazi persecution in 1937, earlier in his career than Adler. Dreikurs was one of the first people to recognize the benefits of groups in therapy. He was a tireless advocate for relationships based on mutual respect, both at home and at school. His well known books include Children the Challenge, Maintaining Sanity in the Classroom, The Psychology of the Classroom.

*John Taylor lives and works in Oregon. He is author of Person to Person: Awareness Techniques for Counselors, Group Leaders, and Parent Educators. (1984) R & E Publishers, Saratoga, CA.

Our Global Partners

Goldman Sachs
ECIS (the Educational Collaborative for International Schools)
Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools (NESA)
LDBS SCITT Teaching London
The American School in London
American School of Barcelona
International School of Lausanne
St Aloysius College (Malta)
Jesuit Foundation Educacio-Sant Ignasi (Spain)
Bonn International School
International School of Dusseldorf
Inter-Community School Zurich
International School of Hamburg
Gheras International School (Qatar)
SEK International School Qatar
TASIS The American School in England
International School of Naples
Living Spring Montessori
Dar Jana International School (Saudi Arabia)
Qatar Academy
Nun Academy (Saudi Arabia)
Riffa Views International School (Bahrain)
Bahrain Bayan School (Bahrain)
Advanced Generations Schools (Saudi Arabia)
GEMS International School (Dubai)
4 Generations 4 Education (International)
Convent of Jesus and Mary Infant School (England)


I am a secondary teacher and the High School Principal of 3,000 students at Sant Ignasi School in Barcelona. I am also a mother of three children aged 11, 8 and 6. Positive Discipline has made a change both in my school life and in my home. Before attending both workshops with Joy Marchese (Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way and Positive Discipline in the Classroom) I had read several books about Positive Discipline and we had started to slowly implement it in our school and at home, so I was familiar with it. However, attending the workshops with Joy gave me a new perspective, the understanding of new tools, the consciousness needed to make a personal change and the conviction that we were on the right path. Joy is greatly knowledgeable about Positive Discipline, an excellent communicator, and an amazing teacher and shows an endless positive energy as she practices what she teaches. That's why we brought her to Spain to teach 20 of our teachers. The training was a complete success. Thanks Joy! Keep on spreading the word around the world!

Núria Rodríguez Font, Directora de Batxillerat.

The philosophy behind Positive Discipline is very inspirational for us in our dual roles as educators and parents. The three-day seminar consisting of a combination of theory and its practical implementation through role-play and workshops was indeed effective. It was heartening to see those in the group who were initially skeptical about the idea of Positive Discipline, being converted as the process unfolded. Joy Marchese modeled this approach throughout the entire three days and her enthusiasm was contagious.

Gabriella Abela and Suzanne Mohnani, Assistant Head and School Counselor, St Aloysius College Sixth Form.

My teenager and I would part ways in the morning very frustrated with each other. She wasn't listening to my reminders to "hurry up or she'd be late to school" and I didn't realize what a controlling "nag" I was becoming to her. I was worried that it was negatively affecting our relationship in the long term. Once I began participating in the Positive Discipline for Parents course, I realized that my daughter and I had been in a "ferris wheel" power struggle spinning faster without any way to get off the ride. By trying some of the different tools and techniques provided in the course our morning ritual has been less frustrating for both of us. Since participating I have approached other issues in a more positive way and improved in my approach to parenting. The book is well worth the read and we had great instructors and great group of parents.

Helen, Parent at the American School in London.

Having experienced Positive Discipline training, I highly recommend these courses for anyone who works with or has children. More than a set of strategies or techniques, Positive Discipline is a philosophy that works toward improving relationships and it has made a valuable difference in the ways I connect with my students and with my daughter. Trainer Joy Marchese brings this philosophy to life in practical and inspirational ways.

Bambi Thompson, Teacher and Parent.

My moment of enlightenment came when Jane Nelsen shared in her book Positive Discipline, “ Where did we ever get the crazy idea that in order to make children do better, first we have to make them feel worse”. I went over to hug Jane good-bye after her second talk at the American School in London. As I said thank you and mentioned that I wished I had come across her book earlier, tears filled my eyes mainly from regret of not having used her positive disciplining techniques with my children when they were younger. She comforted me and said, “It’s not about the guilt, it’s about applying the tools now and moving forward”. I have started using her invaluable tools to improve my parenting techniques in the hopes of becoming a better parent and a better person. Thank you Jane.

Ariadne Petrucelli, Executive Coach and Parent.

I feel very fortunate that I was able to attend the Positive Discipline in the Classroom training in London this January. It was an amazing opportunity to be introduced to Positive Discipline. We now have a trained cohort of teachers at ASL who have worked together to implement many of the strategies. It has helped me re-frame my questions to students so they are able to take more responsibility for their actions and come up with solutions instead of me imposing my solution. My goal for next year is to fully implement positive discipline in my classroom from day one. I look forward to re-reading some of the books over the summer to hit the ground running. Thanks for bringing PD to ASL. It has also been very helpful in my role as a mom.

Jennifer Towleh, Teacher at the American School in London.

Parenting is the most challenging job anyone can ever have. The Positive Discipline program has been an invaluable resource full of practical advice on how to deal with the many challenges of teenage life and teenage parenting. A million thanks to the Positive Discipline counselors/leaders for all their invaluable source of support and guidance this year

Lina, Parent at the American School in London.

The Positive Discipline in the Classroom workshop delivered a whole weekend of paradigm pushing! A lively set of well-designed, experiential activities challenged participants to think deeply about behavioural issues in the whole-school and classroom. The co-leaders of the course worked tirelessly to stimulate discussion and reflection about the values underpinning our educational programmes and they provided pathways for us to remodel our ideas on how best to meet the needs of our learners. Sessions exploring the nature of encouragement, the goals of misbehaviour and the balance between kindness and firmness should become mandatory training for all who work in education. The weekend was exceptional and ranks among the best personal and professional development courses I have ever attended.

Sean Spurvey, Head of ICT Westminster Under School London.

While attending the PD in the classroom training in London, I was uniting and collaborating with adults that were willing and eager to approach things differently and positively. I appreciated the experiential approaches, collaborating, brainstorming, and networking to start to change the ways in which we work with students and children in a variety of settings. I now feel that our team has several "nuggets" to take back and implement in our school and share with other educators and adults.

Amy Friedman, Copenhagen International School, Middle School Counselor.

I love working with the parents who take our Positive Discipline Workshop for Parents of Teenagers. The sessions are full of laughter, tears and a lot of sharing. By the end of our sessions, the parents consistently state that they have more skills, feel better about their parenting and know that they now have a group of people with whom they feel connected.

Liane Thakur, Family Counselor and Coach.

One of the most practical and relevant professional development experiences I have had, and ultimately crucial to creating a meaningful learning community within the contemporary classroom.

Grendon Haines, Counselor Harrow School in London.