Friday, April 10, 2009

Praise from IS 184

The Crown Heights Community Mediation Center provides a variety of services to local schools. We can train teachers in conflict resolution skills and give them the tools to teach others, work directly with students to decrease conflict in the classroom and facilitate numerous programs like peer mediation, youth courts, and rites of passage. The Mediation Center has worked with IS 184 this past year, with some phenomenal results. Read what one staff member wrote about our services. Thank you so much for your support and kind words!

"I had the pleasure of working with the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center twice in 2009. As an educational coordinator for a nonprofit organization called Into the Outside, I accompany students of various ages on field trips in New York City. I have taken students on over twenty field trips this year, and our two visits to the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center were far and away two of the most interesting and valuable for the students.

From our first visit, I found the staff at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center to be absolutely phenomenal with children. They treated them with respect, asking them to introduce themselves, which immediately put our students on their best behavior. Eleanor had them so engaged in conflict-resolution scenarios that on the subway ride home, the students asked their teacher if they could continue their de-escalation role playing in class. For our students, that is incredible! Perhaps the most impressive part of our visit, however, was the way the CHCMC staff was willing to engage openly with our students’ questions—even questions as basic as “ Why don’t Jews celebrate Christmas?” They made the students feel like their questions were important and gave thoughtful and honest answers that lent themselves to future discussions about neighborhood dynamics in the classroom.

The second time I visited the CHCMC, the staff had prepared a fantastic interfaith panel—including local African-American and Caribbean-American pastors as well as Jews from both the Reconstructionist and Hasidic traditions. Our students, many of whom have grown up with anti-Semitic ideas, felt comfortable enough with the pastors’ presence to engage with questions of Jewish identity. They came to the panel curious about their differences with the Jewish community and left not only more informed about the true nature of those differences, but aware that they have much in common with their Jewish neighbors. Their teacher said it was exactly the experience the students needed as preparation for studying the Holocaust this spring.

I am so grateful to the CHCMC for helping us educate our students in a personal way—without the rich community connections and fabulous staff of this organization, our students would have skimmed over the Crown Heights Riots in their textbooks and moved on. Thanks to the CHCMC, they will be able to apply their experiences of diversity, conflict resolution, and open discussion to future studies beyond the Crown Heights neighborhood."

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