We celebrate the launch of Circle Ways, carrying on and expanding the work of Council In Schools.
The end of TOF’s last fiscal year on June 30, 2017 marked the culmination of Council In Schools (CIS) as a program of TOF and the start of Circle Ways, a new, independent venture. Founded by TOF elder and CIS creator Joe Provisor, and CIS’s former director Marc Rosner, Circle Ways expands on the mission of CIS and brings way of council and restorative justice practices to schools in Southern California…and around the world. Indeed, as of this writing Joe is on the last stretch of a two-month tour of Eastern Europe where he has been introducing these practices to schools and educators in Germany, Austria, Belgium, and the Czech Republic, and building a network of circle ways practitioners in those countries.
The history of council in schools began back in 1979, when TOF elder Jack Zimmerman initiated the first program at the Heartlight School, the one-room school that he started and ran. In the early 1980’s, Jack and Paul Cummins then introduced way of council at Crossroads High School in Santa Monica, where it continues as a core component of the school’s life skills program in all grade-levels. In 1992, in the aftermath of the Rodney King riots, Jack and Joe pioneered the first public school council program at Palms Middle School. Many of the people who were to become CIS facilitators and trainers got their start at Palms and continue to work with Joe and Marc at Circle Ways. In 1999, TOF created the CIS initiative. Operating as a joint venture of TOF and the Los Angeles Unified School District, CIS brought way of council to more than 75 schools, 20,000 students, and thousands of teachers, administrators, and parents. Now this work is being carried on by Circle Ways.
Circle Ways contracts with schools and school districts — public, charter, private, and parochial — to provide training and ongoing professional development, facilitation, and materials to implement circle practices, including: way of council in the tradition of TOF, restorative justice/discipline, and nature connections. They even design and build circle spaces and council gardens — spaces for the seeds of these heart-based practices to sprout, flourish, and bear fruit. They also offer regular public workshops and gatherings for educators and administrators to develop their circle skills and explore the mysteries of teaching and learning.
Look for Circle Ways’ first major publication in the coming year, Joe’s memoir/manifesto/manual Teaching and Learning in Circles: Council In Education. To find out more about Circle Ways, check out their website at www.circleways.org.