All over the United States, students are at the beginning of a new academic year. Most colleges and universities have already begun, with many elementary and secondary students still waiting in the wings to take center stage on their first day of the academic school year 2019-2020. New schools, new teachers and newly minted professors walk the hallways and corridors as new notebooks, backpacks and new school clothes create a multitude of “selfie” opportunities along with photo journalistic moments to be posted on social media. The energy is bubbling over and the excitement is palpable. The beginning of a new school year is always hopeful and with almost limitless expectation. Each student can make this an opportunity to start anew, building on the previous years’ success and renewing friendships and alliances or, if need be, to commit to charting a new course throwing off the battle scars, failures and disappointments of the past year for the optimistic outlook of the new one. As this new school year begins, anything is possible.
Richmond Public Schools are implementing some new initiatives to address changing the overall “school culture” by helping students with self empowerment, self actualization, anxiety and overall positive thinking as they approach their personal goals for the academic year and determine their place within the school community as positive impact makers. The goal here is to make our schools into centers of learning not only for the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, but also as culturally sensitive and responsive learning environments that help our students become impactful leaders and contributors to a positive learning environment at school and within their own communities. These initiatives are designed to facilitate the process for all students as they begin the school year.
Towards these ends, the school system has hired Dr. Ram Bhagat as Manager for School Culture and Climate Strategy at Richmond Public Schools. Dr. Bhagat is a longtime educator, arts innovator, and peace builder who has been teaching and transforming communities for over 35 years. Dr. Bhagat is committed to healing trauma in classrooms, schools, and communities. He is also a certified conflict resolution trainer. His expertise is in culturally responsive healing circles; work in arts integration, and mindfulness and yoga. Dr. Bhagat is certified in restorative justice, trauma awareness and resilience work.
We must give some kudos to the Richmond Public School Administration and Leadership team for recognizing the needs of our students to be educated in a more holistic and culturally responsive way. We will look forward to seeing the changes in
student learning outcomes, student empowerment, and the overall school culture of the Richmond Public Schools as they implement these new initiatives. Our hope is for much success as our students enter a new academic year but, it must be recognized, that hope in and of itself is not a strategy for success. It is great to know that our school system is implementing a plan with forward and innovative thinking and with a culturally responsive and demonstrated strategy for its new programing.
Photo Credit Richmond Free Press