Lake Erie College to provide conflict resolution training in Painesville City Schools

Academics,

Project made possible by grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation

In partnership with Painesville City Schools (PCS), Lake Erie College will provide conflict resolution training to teach effective communication skills to students at Harvey High School over the course of the 2016-2017 academic year.

Titled “Empowering Diversity Leadership in Our Local Schools: Communication and Conflict Resolution,” the collaborative project is a sub-component of Begin the Conversation, a community-wide initiative developed by a committee of about three dozen local leaders. The forum was aimed at creating awareness, bridging communication barriers, and serving as a platform for inter-agency engagement to develop solutions to race relations, justice and community policy.

The project underway, “Empowering Diversity Leadership in Our Local Schools: Communication and Conflict Resolution,” between Lake Erie College and PCS was made possible by a generous grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation (MHJF). As stated on its website, part of the MHJF’s mission is to foster the development of individual young people to the maximum possible extent in Ohio’s secular primary and secondary schools.

In line with the MHJF’s mission and in accordance with the foundation’s characteristics of excellent teaching and deep learning, the project between Lake Erie College and Painesville City Schools will incorporate leadership training for six students in grades 9-12 at Harvey High School. The project’s goal is to strengthen diversity and inclusion through meaningful engagement via a leadership seminar and a year-long program.

The educational components of the collaboration will provide conflict resolution and group facilitation skills, leadership skills and service opportunities, with the ultimate goal of empowering students to create awareness of racial issues and advocate for positive race relations.

Students will be selected for the program on the basis of attributes such as a demonstrable commitment to personal integrity and strength in skills such as listening, critical thinking and writing. The students who are chosen must also have an understanding of or experience with diversity in their own lives.

The seminars will be conducted by Anna Tyrell, adjunct professor of psychology at LEC, and Dr. Bryan DePoy, vice president for academic affairs at LEC, both of whom are certified mediators. They will also be assisted by Nichole Kathol, assistant professor of communication at LEC. According to Dr. DePoy, the seminars will consist of interactive workshops designed to bring people together to strengthen the school community and resolve conflict in a safe and productive way.

“This project is designed to inspire change by empowering students with the knowledge to communicate more effectively and to provide them with a framework for diffusing conflict, especially as it might pertain to diversity,” said Dr. DePoy. “We also hope this project will create a means of identifying emerging leaders who can extend their knowledge into the communities in which they live.”

In addition to multiple sessions throughout the year for the students in the program, the institutions are working to create a professional development opportunity for faculty and staff in Painesville City Schools. Documentation and literature resulting from the program will also be made available to the PCS community to serve as guidelines for conflict resolution. Notably, many of the materials will contain content generated by the students themselves.

Students who successfully complete the program and who meet the admission requirements at Lake Erie College will receive a one-time scholarship to the College in the amount of $5,000 with the possibility of renewal.

For more information on the “Empowering Diversity Leadership in Our Local Schools: Communication and Conflict Resolution” program between Lake Erie College and PCS, contact Dr. Bryan DePoy at bdepoy@lec.edu.

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