Forgiveness as a Way to Peace in the Classroom?
Worcester public school teacher Brian Leonard speaks on his experiment with reconciliation and other peace practices in his classroom of middle school students.
Thursday, October 19
143 Highland Street, Worcester, MA 01609
Appetizers are on us. Bring and connect with other educators interested in peace education.
Background: Brian Leonard, an educator and peace activist, taught at Sullivan Middle School for three years. As a teacher, he observed that violence was “a daily reality” for many of his students. Many had traumatic histories and struggled with abuse, poverty, and neglect. Over the course of his teaching, Brian developed simple peace practices in his classroom that allowed him to build respectful relationships between himself and his students.
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School Committee Honors Claremont’s Peer Mediators
Six high school students from Claremont Academy received certificates of honor from Mayor Joseph Petty on September 7 during the Worcester School Committee meeting at the City Council. The students were recognized for learning and implementing the skills required for peer mediation to peacefully resolve conflicts in their school.
The Center for Nonviolent Solutions (CNVS) offers the Peer Mediation Training and Support as part of its capacity building to develop a culture of peace among school students. Claremont’s Principle Ricci W. Hall worked closely with the center to ensure that students gain real life skills that will assist them in their adulthood life.
Center Trains New Cohort of Peer Mediators
A new school year has begun, and with it new opportunities for resolving conflicts nonviolently. Students at Claremont Academy will be ready. In the final days of summer, eight rising sophomores attended the Center’s ten-hour training in peer mediation in anticipation of helping their fellow middle-schoolers find peaceful resolutions to their conflicts. Participants were taught the basic steps of the mediation process: How to welcome disputants and communicate the ground rules; how to actively listen to get both sides of the story; how to encourage disputants to brainstorm solutions and come up with one that is realistic.
Our tenth-graders were an active bunch, so this year’s training included quite a few games.
Here they are diving into a lively round of the cooperative game Hot Lava. And of course, there were lots of role plays.
One of the group’s most eager learners was a young girl well acquainted with middle-school fights. She had gone through many a mediation as disputant and knew its value. Having high schoolers, instead of adults, help you sort out a fight was more real, she believes. Mediation is where you can “show your true face.”
The sophomores are the second cohort of mediators trained by the Center. They will be joining the 2016 cohort in helping to build a culture of peace at Claremont Academy.
Center Conducts First Staff Training
On Tuesday, June 19, the Center completed a four-session training with staff at Straight Ahead Ministries, a faith-based organization that works with formerly incarcerated youth, some of whom are gang affiliated. This was our first staff training with an administrator, as well as street counselors participating.
The twelve-hour workshop, offered over four weeks, provided an introduction to skills in conflict transformation. Along with diagrams and theories about conflict, there were lots of role plays. (Straight Ahead folks are a dramatic bunch.) Each session began with a check-in, during which participants were invited to “bring their conflicts to the table.” Tensions in the workplace? Among the kids? These became the material for applying what we learned.
Michael Langa, who honed his peace-building skills mediating conflicts in Africa, was our lead trainer. He used stories and practical examples to convey complex information. One participant was so impressed with Michael’s insightful analyses, he said he wanted to keep Michael on “speed dial’ for help with his conflicts.
We loved working with Straight Ahead staff, a thoughtful group. Their dedication to youth in need was inspiring, and we look forward to future collaborations.
Social Justice Happy Hour
Our Social Justice Happy Hour, originally scheduled for Thursday May 25, has been re-scheduled for Thursday, June 1. Massachusetts State Senator Harriette L. Chandler will speak about her bill promoting instruction in civics in our public schools https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/S215. The Center is eager to hear about this initiative. A culture of peace thrives best in a civic minded society. Come join us.
Promoting Civic Engagement in our Public Schools
Senator Harriette L. Chandler
Thursday, June 1: 5:30-7:00 p.m.
Sahara Restaurant, Highland St.
We Grow Into Courage: A dramatic reading of civil rights texts
Join the Center for Nonviolent solutions for We Grow Into Courage.
Wednesday, April 12, 5:30-7:00 pm
Saxe Room - Worcester Public Library
3 Salem Square, Worcester
The civil rights readings are excerpted from Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC
SNCC (pronounced “SNICK”) was founded in April 1960 by leaders of the sit-ins that began on Black colleges in the South. It was the only national civil rights organization led by young people. Mentored by the legendary Black organizer Ella Baker, SNCC activists became full-time organizers working with adult leaders to build local grassroots organizations in the Deep South. SNCC focused on voter registration and mounting a systemic challenge to the white supremacy that governed the country’s entrenched political, economic, and social structures.
—Judy Richardson, “The Way We Were: The SNCC Teenagers Who Changed America”
March has been a demanding and energizing time for the Center. It began with our Annual Meeting on March 8th. David McMahon
and Colleen Hilferty, recipients of the our 2016 Community Peacemaker Award, spoke of their fine work at Dismas House and
Dismas Farm on behalf of released prisoners. Straight Ahead Café provided the refreshments. Young musicians from Neighborhood Strings, a regular feature at our Annual Meeting, graced us with glorious music. The talent of those kids advances with each passing year.
The evening’s program also included a brief report on our spring programs, as well as a financial summary. The highlight of “Why is Peace Important,” a short radio clip created and produced by 16-year-old Therence Nthihinduka, a participant in Voices of Peace, our youth radio project. Look for Therence’s audio clip and many others on our Facebook page.
Twenty people turned out for our Social Justice Happy Hour March 23rd at the Sahara Restaurant on Highland Street. Dr. Laurie Ross of Clark University spoke on exciting peacebuilding initiatives in the city to reduce youth violence. A lively discussion followed and people lingered to network. The evening was our most successful SJHH to date. Our next SJ Happy Hour is Thursday, April 27th with Asima Silva. Mark your calendar and join the growing community of peace educators.
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