Saturday, February 13, 2021

The Hill We Climb – Amanda Gorman Finding Voice and Inspiration for Conflict Resolution and Peace

On January 20th , 2021, the inauguration for President Joseph Biden happened in the midst of unprecedented challenges for our nation. With COVID 19 laying wreck and ruin to so many of our rituals, and the deeply divisive action of those who invaded the Capitol on January 6th , it seemed this ceremony couldn’t possibly be based in reality and still inspire imagination. However, regardless of political affiliation, many in our country heard an invitation to refocus future days for our communities with a call for unity. As a conflict resolution educator, I tuned my ear and heard language of finding peace and common interest, even when coming from different positions. This message came through in speeches, music, and most profoundly in poetry. The poem written and delivered by 22 year-old, Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman is what rang through the clearest, the longest and strongest to me. I have joined the millions of Americans who have been forever touched and awed by her brilliance. Full confession – I’m a super fan now! 

I had the opportunity to work with a middle school leadership class in Los Angeles California the week after the inauguration. The school is working “at a distance” and so my guest speaker spot was hosted via Zoom. The topic of the class was challenging students to “find the power of your own voice”. It was a gift to be able to lean into the words and delivery of Amanda Gorman to unpack this topic with the group. Her poem “The Hill we Climb”, is full of poetic devices of structural, grammatical, rhythmic, metrical, verbal and visual elements. It brings new images to life each time I read it. I was not surprised that the middle school students I shared the poem with were also moved by her words. They were fully engaged in discussing and reflecting on her message, even given the challenges of working and being in discussion online.

I started the class with viewing Amanda delivering her poem without any written words at hand. I asked students to share what they heard, what they felt, and what they wondered in the Zoom chat or aloud with mics on. Without hesitation, students jumped in to describe catching Amanda’s words of hope and a call for peace and respect. Students also saw her message grounded in reality with references to the conflicts facing our nation now. The next step was asking students to find specific phrases or words in the poem that matched the topics that they suggested and defined from the first viewing/hearing (which were hope, peace, and respect). Students were given the written text of the poem and we used a shared an electronic interactive “board” (Padlet) to give students a chance to process and analyze the words that evoked the responses they felt from the oral reading. Students found they were able to verify their feelings, citing the precise word choices of the author. The emotions that lingered clearly came from the words she crafted so thoughtfully.

The phrases that linger for me summarize our call to take up the work of peaceful conflict resolution: “And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know, to put our future first we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.” ( There is the mighty power in the young voice that speaks of peace.

The following is a small sample of the responses and excerpts from The Hill We Climb, shared from the middle school participants.

Johnathan - "If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy."

Bianka - "We must first put our differences aside."

Valeria - "We've learned that quiet isn't always peace."

Ashlyn - "With every breath of my bronze pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one."

      Halyn - "Where can we find light in this never-ending shade?"

About the author...

Karen DeVood is a member of the Online Peer Mediation Team Platform and a professor at California State, Fresno in Los Angeles, California.

"La mediaciĆ³n de los conflictos como aliada del bienestar en las aulas" ("Conflict mediation as an ally of well-being in the classroom ")


Join our newest OPMP Team member, Maria Teresa Cle'rici, for our first Spanish speaking webinar regarding using conflict mediation as an ally in the classroom on February 24th @ 6 PM EST.  This webinar is specifically for Spanish speaking educators.  

Maria Teresa is an attorney and educator who trains teachers in the field of conflict resolution in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  

Register at the link below: 

"La mediaciĆ³n de los conflictos como aliada del bienestar en las aulas" ("Conflict mediation as an ally of well-being in the classroom ")

See more about Maria Teresa's credentials below.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Connecting Educators and Students Webinar Recording

If you missed our webinar on connecting students and educators during COVID-19 hosted by Darby Munroe, please check out our recording.  Stay tuned to our monthly webinars!!

Connecting Educators and Students

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Connecting Educators With Their Students Webinar

 Join OPMP team member, Darby Munroe, for her free webinar on connecting educators with their students during the COVID crisis.  The webinar will be Thursday, January 28th @ 6 PM EST.  

Register in advance for this meeting:

Webinar Registration

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Education During COVID-19

Did you miss our webinar, "Education During COVID-19" hosted by PhD student and trauma educator, Darby Munroe? Check out the recording on the OPMP YouTube channel.

About Darby...

Darby Munroe is a current PhD student at Nova Southeastern University in the Conflict Resolution and Analysis program.  She has several graduate degrees in education that focus on at risk youth, and how childhood trauma affects learning and behavior.  She is a certified teacher, and has worked at many alternative schools, including volunteering in juvenile justice facilities.  

After making it through her own high conflict divorce, she wanted to make the process less stressful and less traumatic for other families in similar circumstances, so she became a certified mediator, parenting coordinator, and parenting educator.  Her main goal in doing this is to prevent Adverse Childhood Experiences, and help parents and professionals really do what is in children's best interests, based on scientific research.

See more about Darby here.

Boosting SEL Wellness During a Pandemic

If you missed the webinar on Boosting SEL Wellness in a Pandemic hosted by Ondine Gross,  please go to our You Tube Channel check out the replay here.  

See more information about author, Ondine Gross, on her website.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Boosting Social Emotional Wellness in a Pandemic


Join us for a free webinar: Boosting Social Emotional Wellness in a Pandemic on Wed. Nov. 18 at 7:00 PM, EST.  School psychologist and author of Restore the Respect: How to Mediate School Conflicts & Keep Students Learning, Ondine Gross, will provide helpful strategies for K-12 educators and families on understanding our emotional reactions to the pandemic and ways to help ourselves and others.

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.