Community Building Circles  

Featuring Wheatland-Chili Central School District

Wheatland-Chili CSD collaborated with Melissa Heatly, Director of School Mental Health, University of Rochester Medical Center, to coordinate community building circles at the opening of school in September 2020.  According to Mary Vito, Director of Pupil Personnel Services, “beginning the school year with a Community Building Circle was a great opportunity to bring all of our faculty and staff together in small groups to process the closing of buildings last year due to COVID 19. It provided a place for all to share their feelings of anxiety, anger, and fear of the unknown. Many shared personal stories of how they were affected and their feelings beginning the new school year…Circles are powerful tools for community building.”  District staff also followed up during a later Superintendent’s Conference Day to reconnect the original groups, providing another opportunity for all to discuss their feelings and celebrate a successful re-opening.  

To learn more, watch our School Shorts recording with: 

Andrea House, Middle/High School Counselor
Karen Lee Wilson, Paraprofessional
Christy Olivieri, School Counseling Intern
Melissa Heatly, Director of School Mental Health, U of Rochester Medical Center

Community Building Circles was recorded on November 18, 2020

Wheatland-Chili Staff had this to say about Community Building Circles…

I thought the community building circle went very well in making me feel connected to other staff members. I felt supported and heard through the circle.
I thought this circle was very positive. It was a good opportunity for people to express their feelings.

Resources to start Community Building Circles at your school

Healing Circles for Teachers as a Restorative Self-care Practice
Recommendations for Holding a Virtual Community Circle to Build Connection

To learn more about how Wheatland-Chili brought Community Building Circles to their school contact:
Mary Vito, Director of Pupil Personnel Services
Mary_Vito@wheatland.k12.ny.us 

To learn more about Community Building Circles contact:
Melissa Heatly, Director of School Mental Health, U of Rochester Medical Center
Melissa_Heatly@urmc.rochester.edu

Peaceful Schools
https://peacefulschools.com/
(315) 558-4219

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