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Howard County Education Association Awarded NEA Grant to Help Build a Restorative Culture at HCPSS

April 12th, 2019

The National Education Association (NEA) recently awarded a Great Public Schools (GPS) Fund Grant to the Howard County Education Association (HCEA), a Maryland State Education Association affiliate. The three-year, $438,720 grant will support implementation of restorative practices within the Howard County Public School System. By providing comprehensive training to educators, community members and administrators, HCEA and HCPSS will work together to build positive and inclusive school communities.

“Howard County public schools’ Strategic Call to Action places equity at the core of our work, and becoming a fully restorative school system is paramount to these efforts,” said HCPSS Superintendent Michael J. Martirano. “With HCEA’s support made possible through this grant, HCPSS truly is becoming a national leader in promoting safe and welcoming schools.”

HCPSS is working to spread a restorative culture to every school–approximately 41 Howard County schools currently are implementing a variety of restorative practices. “The NEA GPS Fund grant will enable HCEA to more effectively partner with HCPSS toward increasing the number of Howard County schools implementing restorative justice with fidelity,” said HCEA President Colleen Morris.

HCPSS has placed a renewed emphasis on restorative practices since the creation of its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and hiring of its director, Kevin Gilbert, to oversee the district’s work, along with School Management and Instructional Leadership. Over the last two years, the school system has increased its efforts to support schools in facilitating restorative practices, through staff training, student voice circles and other initiatives, as well as implement recommendations by the Superintendent’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group. HCEA has been a valued partner in these efforts by providing initial and follow up training for school teams.

Looking ahead, the HCPSS Board of Education’s FY2020 budget request includes $425,000 for three positions to further accelerate implementation to institutionalize restorative practices and equity work into the curriculum and culture.

Grants from the NEA GPS Fund are made directly to NEA state and local affiliates for promising projects and ideas that improve student success. Since its inception, the NEA GPS Fund has awarded more than $34.4 million to 82 NEA state and local affiliates. Previous grants have been used to support improving the effectiveness of educators, to enhance the cultural competency of educators in aiding diverse student populations, to recruit and retain high-quality educators, to provide training for education support professionals, and to provide professional development and leadership skills for all educators. The grants support initiatives designed to focus on student-centered success, on professional accomplishment and on dynamic collaboration among empowered leaders.