On Saturday, October 20, 2018, nearly 300 educators and community members joined us for the Partnership’s third Restorative Communities Biennial Convening, entitled Common Ground, at Jordan High School.

Our day began with an energizing drumline performance by students from 99th Street Elementary School, which helped transition into our welcome opening session. Our opening session speakers included equity champions, Antonia Hernández, President and CEO of California Community Foundation; Dr. Frances Gipson, Chief Academic Officer of LA Unified School District; and Dr. Tyrone Howard, Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at UCLA. The session was moderated by Ryan Smith, incoming Chief External Officer of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

Soon after the opening session, participants attended such workshops as: Student Voices: Creating Spaces for Self Empowerment for Boys of ColorImproving Literacy Through SEL and MindfulnessProject LIT Book Club – Igniting Readers, Literary Leaders & Youth Activistsamong 25 others. Participants walked away with new and deeper learnings of how to impact and shape positive cultures in schools.

Restorative communities promote a positive and healthy school culture by building, strengthening and (when harm occurs) repairing relationships through social-emotional learning, circle practice, and restorative dialogue. They are safe spaces (physically, intellectually and emotionally), composed of respectful and responsible adults and students. During the convening, participants experienced those safe spaces by engaging is restorative circles and sharing their stories of truth. Opportunities like these help expand ideas and strategies that will allow us to strengthen our social-emotional learning, culturally responsive teaching, and restorative practices in schools and communities.

Lastly, our day concluded with a special showing of artwork by students from the Partnership’s Mendez High School and Edwin Markham Middle School who shared their restorative justice artwork, as well as educational rap songs by students who work with our partner, Young Producers Group, an organization that works with kids from different socioeconomic backgrounds all interested in making electronic music.

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