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School Climate Transformation

Every school day, Gandhi Institute staff work with students and teachers in conflict resolution spaces, through workshops, after school programs, presentations and hands on projects to create healthier, more loving school climates for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Our work draws from nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication and Restorative Practices and stands in contrast to punitive models. We seeks to disable the school to prison pipeline, reduce the need for policing and security in schools, and create opportunities for conflicts to contribute to learning, moral development and empathy for all.

Help Zone Support

The Gandhi Institute partnered with Monroe, Wilson, Enrico Fermi No. 17, North West College Preparatory, and James P.B. Duffy No. 12 schools in initiating and staffing “Help Zone” rooms for the 2016-2017 academic school year. We are currently partners in staffing Help Zone spaces at Monroe Middle & High Schools, School 17, and School 19.

Help Zones are designed to reduce the achievement gap through key initiatives to minimize loss of instructional time and to provide effective social-emotional support.

The Help Zones are designed to triage the needs of students who may request the following support: handling a conflict or personal issue, seeing an adult in the building, classroom material and/or personal hygiene items, etc. This model helps create a supportive environment for both students and staff.

2016-2017 Data

Below is the preliminary data report for the 2016-2017 academic school year at James Monroe High School. This data is from the 7/8 Grade Help Zone and this data set runs from September 2016-March 2017.

Diagram 1.0 shows the total number of students served in the 7/8 Grade Help Zone by month. In total, the Help Zone supported 1,705 students during this 7-month report. There has been a significant decrease in the number of students seen since the beginning of the year. This data indicates the Help Zone has contributed to supporting one of the James Monroe High School initiatives to maximize class time. The Help Zone provides students with coping/calming strategies to be able to self-regulate and optimize learning time in the classroom.

We are excited to continue sharing our data as we finish the final quarter of the 2016-2017 academic school year – stay tuned!

Social Justice Classes for Middle School Students

Our Help Zone staffing and Social Justice classes at Enrico Fermi No. 17 grew out of Kingian Nonviolence trainings students and staff attended with our partner, Jonathan Lewis. Additionally, we led daily nonviolence education programming at Northwest College Preparatory School with the majority of 7-8 grade students from 2014-2017.

Our curriculum has been crafted by Gandhi Institute nonviolence educators and incorporates many different nonviolence philosophies and techniques: mindfulness and meditation, Nonviolent Communication, Dr. King’s six principles of nonviolence, Civil Rights Movement history, Gandhi’s history and philosophy, and ideas from the Alternatives to Violence Project workshops.

We cover topics such as:

  • Understanding violence on the internal, interpersonal, and structural levels
  • Understanding nonviolence as both a philosophy and practice
  • Transforming a negative situation into a positive one
  • Preventing and responding to bullying
  • Creating healthy habits around self awareness, anger, and stress management.

We enhance this materially by drawing on icebreakers and games from The Yellow Book of Games and Energizers (Jayaraja and Tielemans, 2011), the Alternatives to Violence Project manuals (, and Teen Empowerment’s book Moving Beyond Icebreakers (Pollack and Fusoni, 2014).