Ms. Saffold facilitates a parent circle
Last Thursday, 4 teachers, several community volunteers, staff members and security personnel from Central Academy of Excellence, completed a 12 hour Conflict Resolution and Restorative Discipline Workshop. Each Thursday afternoon for 5 weeks, the group met for 3 hours to discuss personal conflict styles, conflict resolution skills, the ‘think, listen, collaborate’ process, circle facilitation and other concepts.
Central’s principal, Linda Collins, invited the Community Mediation Center (CMC) to her school with the goal of helping staff and volunteers build their capacity to empower students to solve issues in peaceful ways. The workshop, funded by the Kansas City, Missouri Community Capital Fund, culminated in each participant writing and presenting a Restorative Discipline Project to a larger group of parents and students.
One of the projects described a ‘safe’ room for students to go to during the day when they knew they were at risk for fighting. Originating with a request from members of student counsel, the ‘safe’ room will be staffed by trained adult mentors who will coach self-referred students through their situation. Another project plans to create a parent support ‘circle dialogue’ in which parents can express frustrations as well as the joys of raising teenagers, in a confidential and safe setting.
In school suspension coordinator and middle school team leader, Lynne Shipley, organized participants for the workshop and will continue her plan to work with students she sees in her classroom in restorative ways, helping them seek healthy habits for conflict resolution that will prepare them for a more peaceful future. Additional training is planned for other members of the school community in August. Central Academy of Excellence is finding ways to restore students to their supportive community before during and after wrongdoing instead of separating them from it – Welcome to the Peace Party!
Margot and Annette in the studio
Last Monday morning, a small group of us braved the’ late in the year’ snow storm to make our way to the KKFI 90.1 radio station on Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri. I met Jeff Humfeld, producer for the ‘Jaws of Justice’ radio show, at a community event in March. He mentioned the program and asked if I would do an interview about the Community Mediation Center. Several weeks later I was contacted by Margot Patterson for a pre-interview conversation. At that time we decided to do the interview live on the air as opposed to a pre-recording. I felt a little nervous as I arrived at the station, but was put at ease by efficient and friendly people and a comfortable atmosphere. Keith Brown announced the interview and we were off! Early on, Mike Murphy, chief operator, slid a piece of paper toward me that suggested I “get closer to the mic”. With Margot’s graceful efforts the interview went well. The ‘Jaws of Justice’ program highlights efforts that “seek out alternatives to the present practice that puts the law before justice, alternatives that are restorative to those that have been wronged and just to those that have offended.” (from the website). ‘Jaws of Justice’ is a forum, run by dedicated volunteers, that invites community members to engage in conversation about concepts of justice that effect us all. Welcome to the Peace Party!
You can listen to the 20 minute interview here click to listen
Abby Mueller, Neighborhood Prosecutor, and Evalin McClain, Neighborhood Investigator, both for Kansas City, Missouri’s East Zone, brought together 50 neighborhood leaders for 6 hours of Restorative Justice training, leading to participation in Neighborhood Accountability Boards. The Mohart Center was the site for two Saturday trainings on February 2nd and 9th , facilitated by Diane Kyser and Annette Lantz-Simmons from the Community Mediaton Center and Airick Leonard West, Director Community 360 , and Kansas City Public Schools, Board Chair .
Participants learned theories and skills related to interacting with victims, offenders and other community people, to find restorative ways to make as right as possible the harm that has been done. First time offenders ages 17 and up, once identified by the prosecutor as appropriate for the diversion experience, can choose to participate, with the benefit of moving forward without a permanent record. The Accountability Board provides the chance to talk face to face with the people he or she harmed and to have the opportunity to make it right through restitution and community service.
Through Board participation, neighbors and victims have the chance to tell the offender the real-life consequences of their offense and how it affected them, their families and their neighbors. Often, this depth of participation allows a measure of healing and empowerment moving forward. Through the process, the offender has the chance to become or remain a contributing member of the community. Plans for restitution are co-created and extenuating needs are met through referrals to community services. The Community Mediation Center will initially facilitate the Board meetings and will manage the planning, implementation and follow-up.
KCMO East Zone, Welcome to the Peace Party!
You can join! Go to our website CMC to find out how to volunteer, participate in training or donate.