Transforming Schools

Transforming Schools
September 26, 2014 Echo

Transforming individual families and whole communities with trauma-informed nonviolent child-raising
by Diana Ayala

“Callate ya!” Shut up! These are the words that remained with us after our visit to Sally Ride Elementary School in South LA, the words of a grandma who was called in to pick up her granddaughter at school, and the words that silenced this little girl who had been flooded with emotions. It was easy for us to judge the way the little girl was treated by her grandma, but then we wondered, “What happened to this grandmother when she herself was a little girl? How many times was she silenced with a “Callate ya!” by her own mother, caregivers or teachers?” We imagine that the grandmother was feeling embarrassed and ashamed about her granddaughter’s behavior. Do you remember what it was like to have to go to the Principal’s office as a child? Have you experienced what that’s like as a parent?

Can you imagine a school where grandmothers, mothers, fathers can be greeted with empathy when they have to pick up a child who was “acting out” at school? Can you imagine a school where teachers and all staff have an understanding of how to connect with both children and parents in challenging situations? Here at Echo, we are invested in transforming individual families and whole communities with the trauma-informed nonviolent approach to child-raising, and this is how the The Sally Ride Whole School Pilot Project was born. This project will support the whole school community – parents, students and school staff (teachers, yard staff, cafeteria staff, anyone who comes in contact with a student) – and give them the opportunity to learn about trauma: what it is, how to recognize it, and how to practice regulation techniques. Together, we adults will look at our own childhoods, to experience what we call at Echo, ‘the paradigm shift’. That is the moment when we realize how toxic our conditioning in the punishment and reward paradigm has been, remember what it is like when adults seek to control our behavior and don’t look beneath to find the pain or the stress that is causing us to ‘act out’ or remain hidden by making ourselves as small as possible.

The launch of this ambitious and transformative project took place September 18, 2014 with an Ice Cream Social at the school. We are very grateful to The California Endowment whose support has made this project possible. Click here for details about the Sally Ride Whole School Project.


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