The Gift of GCC Training and Whole-School Change

January 3, 2024

Clarissa Gonzalez has been a passionate Youth Development Practitioner for the past 15 years. This has taken many forms, from leadership development and holistic health/wellness education, to Native cultural work and restorative practices. Originally from Chicago IL, she is the co-founder of Machtia Toltekatl, an educational institute of Native Arts & Sciences and the owner of Ritual Leaf Co. through which she offers herbal products that promote mindfulness & wellness. She is currently the Restorative Practices Facilitator at Pinecrest Academy Sloan Canyon in Henderson Nevada.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to join the Georgia Conflict Center’s School-wide Restorative Practices Certification Course. It was precisely what I needed to launch a school-wide program at the K-12 school where I work!

This program was incredibly robust, grounded and facilitated with integrity and it was clear that GCC moves in its principles of justice and equity by offering me a scholarship to attend.

Because I am at a school that is barely considering implementing school-wide Restorative Practices, there was no way I would have received funding to attend the program, however I knew I needed this certification course to encourage administration and teachers to buy into the program. I was at a crossroads. So I was incredibly grateful that GCC moves in its principles of equity and I was able to receive a scholarship to attend! It is no exaggeration to say then, that in turn, GCC’s program catalyzed the launch of RP at my school impacting over a thousand students!

Not only was this program key to a solid foundation in anyone’s practice, but it explored in depth what it takes to build a restorative mindset and communication. It allowed me to connect with other like-minded practitioners who supported me and gave me advice on how to navigate the process of establishing a program at my school. The facilitator, Danny, did a beautiful job of creating a welcoming environment that held the spirit of a circle even virtually and all of the guest speakers and fellow participants inspired me to persevere despite setbacks.

Although I recognize that embodying the work of Restorative Practices is a lifelong process, and no certification can ever truly reflect the depth and breadth of this work, taking this certification course helped my school trust the process of establishing a program, and helped me feel fully resourced and supported to be able to hold space for the hard conversations and differing opinions with administration and teachers at my school.

Now, I am finally able to offer Tier 1, 2, & 3 circles at my school and my colleagues are all asking about training at GCC!  There is no doubt that this training was a vital part of the puzzle to bring Restorative Practices to my community. Thank you!

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