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Reimagine Me Teaches Columbus School Staff To Navigate Student Conflict

Columbus City School director of emotional and student support services Cheryl Ward.
Adora Namigadde
Columbus City School director of emotional and student support services Cheryl Ward.

Hundreds of Columbus City Schools staff members are meeting this week to learn about trauma-informed care. The conference follows passage of a state law meant to limit student suspensions.

More than 300 Columbus teachers, secretaries and psychologists are convening for the Reimagine Me post-conference. The two-day conference was a follow up to Reimage Me conference held at the beginning of the week also in Columbus.  

Cheryl Ward directs emotional and student support services for Columbus City Schools. She says restorative care looks to reduce harsh punishments and focuses on both parties in a relationship giving and receiving harm.

“Restorative practices deals with this notion of harm. And in understanding that as human beings, we are both the givers and receivers of harm,” Ward says. “When we don’t understand how to talk situations through, how to use our voice, how to recognize that something I may have said or done was harmful and to reconcile that, that can leave a space or a hole that if not dealt with.”

Conference participants will learn about classroom models for conflict resolution from all over the country.

People who have undergone trauma may struggle to connect harm and its impact, Ward said. She hopes the conference teaches people who interact with students how to recognize their feelings.

“Finding out what happened,” Ward says. “What were you thinking of at the time? What would you change or what have you thought about since? This question of, ‘What do you need to do to make it right?’”

The training follows last year’s passage of a state law banning most suspensions for students up to third grade, and increasing the threshold for suspensions for all students.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.