Students in the Academy of Choice (AOC) Leadership Class trained 18 Community in Schools workers in restorative justice practices, including healing circles, during a training event held in Baytown, Texas, recently.
This year’s AOC leadership students are Julissa Alba, Brooke Cherry, Ashton Creekmoore, Kenia Marun Cruz, Tristen Day, Yancey Elguezabal, Michael Hendrickson, Skylin Lee, Brandie Massey, Ashley Monjares, Allizon Palma, Emili Torres, Chris Valera and Karina Vazquez.
One Community in Schools attendee praised the event highly. “I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the training. I look forward to working with you all further to gain a better understanding of how to facilitate, as well as how to guide my students to facilitate, a [healing] circle as well.”
Academy of Choice instructor Anita Wadhwa uses a practice called healing circles to address student or school conflict when it occurs. AOC students co-facilitate meetings between a person who has either caused harmed, a person who was harmed, or interested parties in order to find solutions and repair the harm done.
Academy of Choice uses this practice to build community, and to disrupt a troubling pattern known as the school to prison pipeline, a phenomenon in which students who are suspended or expelled have an increased chance or likelihood of entering the criminal justice system.
The AOC program, Wadhwa, and some of her students were featured last year in news stories broadcast locally and on National Public Radio (NPR) member stations.
Dignity in Schools, a national network dedicated to ending the pipeline, has sponsored a National Week of Action Against School Pushout. The national network calls for disciplinary alternatives such as restorative justice. As part of the week’s events, AOC helped its leadership students attend a forum at Texas Southern University on racial and economic disproportionality in the criminal justice system.
AOC students are led by instructors Udoro Gatewood, Nicole Harris and Wadhwa.
For more information on bringing restorative justice practice to your school, please email at Anita Wadhwa at email@example.com.