November 4, 2016
Umoja Expands Our Team
As our impact continues to increase throughout the city of Chicago, so does the growth of the Umoja team!
This summer, we welcomed eight new staff members and two interns. Each one brings unique professional perspectives to the work and individual stories as to why working at Umoja matters to them. Most significantly, our new staff came to the work, their roles, their teams, and their schools ready. They are ready to ask the right questions, ready to listen, and ready to engage. Umoja is thrilled to have such dedicated and enthusiastic individuals join the family!
George Jackson (pictured below), who is part of this new hire group, has a significant history working with and for young people throughout Chicago. We asked him about his unique perspective:
You worked on the enforcement side of school discipline for a number of years as a Security Officer at Sullivan High School and with the CPS District Office of Safety & Security. What insights do you bring to Umoja after having seen both the punitive and restorative approaches to discipline and conflict resolution?
“At the district Office of Safety & Security, we had a ‘Daily Student Shot Chart’ where we tracked the number of kids 19 and under shot on a daily basis. I started to understand that suspending kids and sending them home just sent them into the fire. They were better off in the building and learning than out of the building and getting in trouble or becoming a victim of violent crimes.
This work is all about relationships, trust, love, and respect. I love each and every kid like they were my own. I believe that seeing both sides helps me to understand the breakdown in relationships, trust, love, and respect between teacher and student. It allows me to understand why the breakdown exists and how to improve it. It also helps me to relate to staff in a more productive manner because they know I understand their plight. Coaching on what respect looks, feels, and sounds like really helps in a building where respect is being fought for on both sides.”
George is currently a Restorative Justice Specialist in our brand new Peace Room at Al Raby High School, and he is optimistic for the year ahead. “I’m excited about building really good relationships in the building, whether adult or student. I’m also excited about seeing an overall change in the culture of the building. We know it will take some time; it’s not a quick fix."