By Marisol Quevedo Rerucha
The work of an educational leader is to guide and facilitate learning and growth for educators at all levels (this includes teachers, school staff and other leaders). In recent years the educational system has embraced social-emotional learning, trauma-informed care, and comprehensive healing for students.
What most initiatives fail to do, is recognize the need for adult healing.
Educational systems and those who work in them have a tremendous amount of influence on students--who they are and who they will be. And because of that work, the adults in school systems deserve the opportunity to grow and heal from the personal and professional harm that has occurred in their lives as well, so as to be fully available for the students.
By engaging and becoming truly restorative, teachers, leaders, and school staff can offer this transformational way of being to students, parents, and their community. Imagine every person being able to communicate remorse, acknowledge the suffering they've inflicted, to ask for forgiveness and restoring the damage from these wounds.
In education, we are faced with the need to acknowledge, accept, heal and transform from individual harm, and from the systemic harm that has occurred, and continues to impact Black, Brown, Indigenous and special education students.
Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity is the resource that I’ve been waiting for in my work. Dr. Floyd Cobb and John Krownapple layout how honoring dignity, “the innate, equal worth of each human being simply because that person is human,” is the way to equity in schools and all school systems.
In chapter 5 they describe what dignity honored versus honor violated dignity looks and acts like in school culture. This also applies to any culture: be it in your home, with any group or organization. The authors provide, through language and charts, an in-depth understanding of the norms, experiences, core dispositions and core values that exist in a culture of dignity or indignity.
This work read through a restorative lens helps to identify, in clear terms, how and why harm occurs. For example, presuming competence, in a culture of dignity creates trust, allowing individuals and teams to focus on the collective mission of their work, and to problem solve in an efficient and effective way. Whereas presuming incompetence, a norm in a culture of indignity can immediately lead to harm, and destruction of individuals, teams and ultimately the work.
As an educator with a restorative heartset and mindset, and as a trainer for restorative practices, this book is a gift to me that I will share and recommend to all educators engaged in the work of diversity, equity, inclusion, and healing.
Have you read Floyd Cobb's and John Krownapple's book or any of their prior work? How does it apply to your current practice? Please share
*Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity is available for purchase on Amazon. Bulk orders are available via email@example.com. Grab your copy of this timely and important work.
Marisol Quevedo Rerucha is a proven leader who doesn't just talk about healing, equity, social justice, and disrupting generational trauma; she has both lived experience and a proven record of doing this work while leading change in education and non-profit systems. She uses her voice to challenge systems of oppression and more importantly amplifies the voices of others. Marisol’s passion for supporting our nation’s alternative schools, illustrates how she uses her gifts and talents to support students that are most marginalized. She has engaged in the real work of addressing and ending the school to prison pipeline by building and leading career readiness and career technical education in juvenile court and community schools.