School Climate Transformation
Every school day, Gandhi Institute staff work with students and teachers in conflict resolution spaces, workshops, after school programs, and field trips to the Institute to create healthier, more loving school climates for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Our work draws from Nonviolent Communication, Restorative Practices, Cultural Humility, and other nonviolence frameworks and stands in contrast to punitive models. We seek to disable the school to prison pipeline, reduce the need for policing and security in schools, and instead to cultivate opportunities for conflicts to contribute to learning, moral development and empathy for all. Our School Climate work is centered around collaboration with all school stakeholders to build relationships, and skills and systems for conflict management.
During the 2015-2016 school year, The Gandhi Institute partnered with staff from NorthWest College Prep in piloting the first Help Zone in the Rochester City School District (RCSD) which created a space where students came to get support in managing conflict and building social emotional skills. During the 2017-2018 school year we helped to spread the pilot and staff Help Zones in Enrico Fermi School No. 17, Dr. Charles T. Lundsford STEM Academy School No. 19, and James Monroe High School. The Help Zone structure has now been expanded to more than half of RCSD schools. We are currently partners in staffing Help Zone spaces at Enrico Fermi School No. 17.
Help Zones aim to reduce the achievement gap through key initiatives to minimize loss of instructional time and to provide effective social-emotional support. These conflict resolution spaces are designed to triage the needs of students who may need: assistance handling a conflict or personal issue, locating a adult support systems in the building, classroom material and/or personal hygiene items, etc. This model helps create a supportive environment for both students and staff.