After 15 years as an elementary school counselor, I was feeling like I needed something
to invigorate me both personally and professionally. I searched for new ideas and
options and came across the Council training course through Royal Roads University’s
Continuing Education, facilitated by Lori Austein.
Once I completed Level 1 & 2, I knew I had found what I needed. The Council experience
provided an open opportunity for sharing from each person present, something I felt
was missing during my classroom teaching experiences with students.
This past school year, my principal asked me to involve our school liaison officer
in some sessions with one of our Grade 6 classes. The main topic to be discussed
Lori began her council work with The Ojai Foundation’s Council in Schools program
in Southern California, facilitating weekly councils for up to 10 classes at an urban
public middle school of over 2,000 students speaking more than 100 different languages.
Council in Schools programs aim to promote the inclusion of council into mainstream
school curricula, creative arts, instructional strategies, support services, and
school communities. To implement this mission, training and support of school staff
is completed to integrate council into classroom and school counseling practice,
as well as faculty, parent, and community meetings.
Council in Schools provides a practice that addresses relationship (connection) and
relevance (meaning) in education. Students, teachers, staff and parents often report
that sitting in council "feels like coming home." In this regard, council in schools
programs help create healthy, joyful school communities.
Council does not teach values explicitly, but exposes students to a process through
which values are formed. By learning how to listen "from the heart" to the stories
and expressions of others, students and adult participants develop true empathy.
There are many programs that offer various forms of "social-emotional" education,
but few that address this fundamental need in a way that comes from within each individual.
Council is about respect and relationships, but it is also an effective method for
teaching literacy and content standards in all disciplines.
Lori offers Council for Educators training weekends and is available to work directly
with individual schools or districts.
“There is a myth that the purpose of education is to give students the means for
upward mobility and success. The plain fact is that the planet does not need more
successful people, but it desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, story-tellers,
and lovers of every kind. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight
to make the world habitable and humane.”