STORIES

Conflict Resolution Being Supported in Aldine, Humble by Center for Safe and Secure Schools Via $40,000 Grant

Students in 20 elementary schools in Aldine and Humble will learn about conflict resolution early-on thanks to a $40,000 grant provided to Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools this fall. The yearlong grant is awarded by the JAMS Foundation, a nonprofit founded by JAMS, the largest private provider of alternative dispute resolution services worldwide. The center’s grant proposal with Aldine and Humble was one of two selected from 130 applications. Center Director Julia Andrews said the grant officially called #RollingwithRestorative is a conflict resolution program using Restorative Practices which trains and supports teachers, counselors, school personnel, parents and students in conflict resolution. Conflict resolution is the process by which two or more parties reach a peaceful resolution to a dispute. Teaching youth how to resolve conflict in a peaceful way can help reduce incidents of violence, criminal mischief and absenteeism. “School climate and culture also directly influence student belonging, teacher morale, parental involvement and school safety,” Andrews said. Center staff will provide multiple trainings to accommodate approximately 100 employees in each district. Schools included in #RollingwithRestorative are the following: Aldine elementary schools: Anderson, Ogden, Hill, Cypresswood, Orange Grove, Eckert, Stehlik, Escamilla, Smith and Johnson. Humble elementary schools: Humble, Jack Fields, Lakeland, North Belt, Oaks, Park Lakes, Ridge Creek, River Pines, Whispering Pines and Atascocita Springs. “The intent is to change the school climate and to build relationships inside and outside of school through engagement.” Staff from the center have trained neighboring districts in Restorative Practices, a means to reform discipline by reducing suspension and improving attendance. Through Restorative Practices, the focus is on resolving conflicts by addressing the problems which caused the at-risk students to misbehave. “In contrast to punishment and suspension, this approach focuses on the needs of victims and offenders as well as the community as a whole,” said Andrews. “Using the group discussion model, including talking circle, restorative justice seeks to repair broken bonds between students, or between students and teachers.” The #RollingwithRestorative program will be evaluated for success through a third-party evaluator. The center may reapply for an additional $20,000 in funding in 2021-2022. For more information, access http://www.hcde-texas.org/safeand-secure-schools. (Images are archived from 2018) Source: HCDE