The governance model at Ridge and Valley Charter School is collaborative, circle-based modified consensus. Students, guides, trustees, and families use the circle form for meetings, discussions, and decision-making in small and large groups and in committees.
RVCS has benefited from resources and guidance from mentors connected to the organization PeerSpirit. Our community trainings, the excellent book Calling the Circle: the First and Future Culture by Christina Baldwin, and the informative PeerSpirit website have all been helpful tools to support the evolution and development of our own specific practices from a foundational model of circle governance.
The trustees and staff credit the responsibility and relationships fostered by circle-based collaboration for the successful development of the school so far. Children and adults seek to model the personal responsibility and mutual respect necessary to work in a circle of peers: to ask for what we need and to offer what we can, in support of the explicit shared intention of the group.
These helpful suggestions regarding circle principles, practices, and agreements are reprinted with permission from PeerSpirit available here. Additionally, PeerSpirit offers helpful videos on the components of circle.
The circle, or council, is an ancient form of meeting that has gathered human beings into respectful conversation for thousands of years. The circle has served as the foundation for many cultures.
What transforms a meeting into a circle is the willingness of people to shift from informal socializing or opinionated discussion into a receptive attitude of thoughtful speaking and deep listening and to embody and practice the structures outlined in the file available below.