The Twomey Center’s conflict resolution work goes back to the work of Fr. Twomey when the Center was named the Institute of Human Relations. Its modern iteration began when Mennonite Volunteer Sandy Boshart started an alternative dispute resolution program in the small claims court in 1986.
In 1988, Mennonite volunteer, Allynn Meredith replaced Sandy Boshart as director and created an advisory board that assumed responsibility for the future of the program. Community Mediation Services was spun off from the Twomey Center becoming an independent organization. It still exists today.
In 1989 Allyn Meredith established the first peer mediation program in Orleans Parish Schools at Peter's Middle School using the New Mexico Center for Dispute Resolution model. In 1990, she affected a smooth transition to her replacement, Mennonite volunteer, Jeff Gingerich. That year the Twomey Center began its collaboration with Educators for Social Responsibility and began sponsoring the Resolving Conflict Creatively program in Orleans Parish Public Schools.
RCCP is a nationally renowned comprehensive conflict resolution program. The Twomey Center trained administrators, teachers and students in 9 schools to implement the comprehensive program. We additionally trained 7 Safe and Drug Free Schools Middle School coordinators as trainers and staff developers for the program. We also trained 400 teachers and counselors to form100 school Peace Education Teams (PET) that would teach conflict resolution in their schools. In 2005 Katrina wiped out all the schools that had adopted the program.
There is as great or greater a need for “waging peace in our schools” where teachers and students are suffering post-traumatic stress from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike and the increasing violence in our communities and schools.
To begin rebuilding our capacity the Twomey Center sponsored 30 schools counselors and social workers to the Educators for Social Responsibility workshop on the new RCCP curriculum. We will continue to bring conflict resolution training to our schools and after-school youth-serving organizations and insure conflict resolution and peer mediation are a part of school cultures.