OSI Baltimore’s Education and Youth Development (EYD) team recently participated in Open Society Foundations National and Regional Education Strategy Meeting in Paris, France. The conference, which brought together national and regional foundations from all over the OSF network and grew out of a week-long course at Central European University (CEU) in Budapest on inclusion of marginalized student populations, focused on priorities and strategies in education, as well as establishing collaboration partners for the future.
The EYD team, Director Karen E. Webber, who attended the CEU course, and Program Specialist Emily Faxon, presented the program’s work with restorative practices during the first day of the meeting. The team discussed the US and Baltimore context, what restorative practices and school climate are (in the picture above, Webber leads a restorative circle outside the conference), the program’s strategies for bringing both to scale, and the history of restorative practices in Baltimore. EYD also engaged the very receptive group in a restorative circle so that they could experience it first-hand.
The second day, which was focused on emerging approaches and strategy, Faxon helped facilitate a discussion on challenges to teacher motivation, teacher preparation, capacity building, creating teacher networks, and diversifying the teaching force. Webber participated in a discussion regarding racism, sexism, bullying and other forms of exclusion in education.
“The participants were very interested in exploring the idea of bringing restorative practices into their work to fight these marginalizing features in the systems they were charged with impacting” Webber says of the experience. “The restorative practices work being initiated in Baltimore was particularly interesting to participants in Budapest and we were therefore asked to conduct a workshop in Paris for the OSF foundations that might want to learn more about the practice.”
Read more about the program’s work with restorative practices in our 2016 Impact Report and learn more about how OSI is working with Baltimore City Public Schools on its Blueprint for Success, a framework outlining how the district will create a comprehensive approach to ensure all students -– no matter where they live in Baltimore City — will have access to high-performing schools.