The Open Society Institute (OSI)-Baltimore has awarded a grant to the Social Work Community Outreach Service (SWCOS) in the amount $418,000 to support the creation of The Center for Positive School Climate and Supportive Discipline. The Center will work with public schools across Maryland to reduce disparities in school discipline for children of color and children with disabilities to improve student outcomes.
In collaboration with Maryland State Department of Education, the Center will provide teachers, staff and administrators with the tools and resources to create positive school climate and reduce suspensions and expulsions. School climate refers to the quality and character of the school environment in respect to its norms and values and the relationships between students, teachers, staff, families and community members.
The four broad areas of focus of the Positive Schools Center are: 1) trauma-informed practice; 2) creating classrooms which build resiliency with a focus on engagement, as opposed to behavior management; 3) exploring individual and structural bias and how these biases create policies which support disparate impact; and 4) restorative and healing practices, including the use of mindfulness for stress reduction and teacher self-care and restorative practices for conflict management.
SWCOS will develop and operate the Center as the lead organization in collaboration with several partners, including: Family Connections at the School of Social Work, C-DRUM (Center for Dispute Resolution at the UM Carey School of Law), Associated Black Charities and Towson University’s School of Education. This spring, a director for the center is being hired and an official launch of the Positive Schools Center is expected in mid-2015.