Council Training for Ojai Valley Educators

Fri, 11/01/2013
Reprinted from the Ojai Valley News, November 1, 2013

Nov. 9 and 10, a group of Ojai educators will teach the practice of Council in Schools through a special offering of The Ojai Foundation (TOF).

The practice of formalized listening and speaking “from the heart” has become TOF’s core offering and is an aspect of all workshops and gatherings at TOF. In 1996, former TOF directors Jack Zimmerman and Virginia “Gigi” Coyle published the book, “The Way of Council.”

In 1983, under the guidance of Zimmerman, local educators began to meet monthly under the banner “New Visions for Educators 2,” based on a long-running group in Los Angeles started by Zimmerman and Paul Cummins, founder of the Crossroads School in Santa Monica.  Some members of this group included Dennis Rice, former director of Happy Valley School; Meredy Benson-Rice, current head of Oak Grove School; Wayne Flaaten, former Ventura Unified School District administrator and principal; and local educators Lanny Kaufer and Paul Belgum. 

After two years of meeting in council at TOF, Rice introduced the practice to staff at Happy Valley School in 1985, and staff introduced the practice to students in 1986.  Others involved in New Visions also integrated the practice into their classrooms and schools.  Council was viewed mostly as a deep community-building practice, one that allows for all voices to be heard.

Today, Council In Schools (CIS) serves more than 60 Los Angeles schools, and has trained more than 2,000 educators.  One of those responsible for the L.A. growth, Joe Provisor, former Palms Middle School teacher and now director of CIS, will partner with Chris Elder, a current Ojai resident and former 17-year head of New Roads Middle School, to bring council practice back to Ojai schools.

A new training session is set for Nov. 9 and 10 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days.

The fee is $50, with a training manual included.

Karen Hesli, local Ojai teacher and former director at Oak Grove School, says, “As a teacher for over four decades, council training is one of the best — if not the best — tools I ever learned.”

Registration is open to educators, administrators, and staff currently working in Ojai Valley schools; Visit for more information.