I hope you've had a chance to look through our annual report. Check out the great work and positive impact on kids and communities you're making possible.
WJC was abuzz last week with teachers from throughout LA County. They joined us at our Maxwell House office for our 30-hour ABCs of Conflict training.
We also have some terrific student volunteers working with us this summer. I thought you might enjoy reading a firsthand account from one of the student volunteers about his work with the teachers and WJC.
Please read on!
Wishing you a fun and relaxing summer,
Judge Judith C. Chirlin (LASC-Ret.)
WJC Executive Director
My name is Lev Asimow, and I'm a summer extern here at Western Justice Center, where I'm working to update the Center's self-evaluation process, as well as assisting with program logistics and development. I graduated from Polytechnic School in Pasadena in 2014, and am currently a rising sophomore at Harvard College, studying philosophy and competing on the policy debate team.
I'm thrilled to be involved with Western Justice Center this summer, and am writing to share a few details of what I've seen in my time here and what we're up to these days.
Probably our most exciting summer offering is the ABCs of Conflict program, a 30-hour training session for educators of K-12 youth on conflict resolution. The course provides youth-serving professionals with the necessary tools to start or contribute to peer mediation programs at their schools.
Evidence continues to build that programs like these make a real difference in the educational experiences and life-long flourishing of students across the nation.
This year's participants consist of about 50 teachers, administrators, and counselors from all over the greater LA area, many of whom are employed in LAUSD and nearly all of whom work primarily with youth participants in free/reduced price lunch programs and students at underserved and Title I schools.
I sat in on parts of the training, participated in group discussions ranging from mediation skills to active listening, and joined in role-play exercises with the educators as they honed their skills in dealing with the conflicts they face daily in their work.
In one scenario, I played a parent concerned about my son's homework load, and my partner played the role of his teacher. In another, we broke up into small groups to mediate sample disputes among students and practice implementing restorative practices.
A particular focus of this year's ABCs of Conflict is on program evaluation, an aspect of the course I've spent the last several weeks working to improve. We've always gotten incredible feedback about ABCs and programs like it, but we're striving to learn with more and more detail what works and what doesn't, what teachers have an easy time putting to use and what they've struggled to bring to their schools and communities.
With new surveys and new methods for gathering data, we're beginning the work of improving our curriculum and finding new ways of reaching out to teachers, to potential donors, and beyond.
I found it inspiring to witness the educators' excitement at the prospect of integrating these new skills into their classrooms and schools, and to hear stories of their past successes and triumphs.
For the first time, it really dawned on me that these educators are genuinely at the front lines in some of America's least privileged schools, and that they really do make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of the kids they teach.
I can only imagine what they and their students face everyday, but I'm confident that Western Justice Center's tireless work is making-and can continue to make-a difference.
WJC Extern, Summer 2015