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Campaign Helps to Address School-to-Prison Pipeline

On Oct. 7, more than 150 people in attendance at ART 180's First Friday opening art exhibit, "I Am Powerful," took part in the #ChangeOurSchoolsRVA campaign organized by doctoral students in the service-learning course "Advanced Seminar in Social Processes of Education."

Led by Sharon Zumbrunn, associate professor in the VCU School of Education, the campaign helps to address the school-to-prison pipeline in the Richmond community. Participants took part in the campaign by writing their responses to the prompt: "Schools would be more inviting/inclusive/supportive if:" on small white boards.

Each participant was photographed with his/her response, and the photos will be used to create an additional piece of the exhibit. The responses will also form the basis of a toolkit for schools to encourage inclusive and supportive learning environments.

"In 2015, the Center for Public Integrity identified Virginia as the nation's leader in referring youth to law enforcement," said Zumbrunn. "As an educational psychologist and as a former elementary school teacher, I understand the power that schools have to change children's lives. The goal of this work is to begin to help teachers, administrators and students understand strategies that can encourage all students to feel like they belong and are supported at school."

Zumbrunn also said that by working with community partners ART 180 and Performing Statistics, the doctoral students in the course have the opportunity to see how they can be agents of change in their community and begin to understand some of the complexities and challenges facing schools.

For more information, contact Zumbrunn at skzumbrunn@vcu.edu.