Claudine Miles: Training Adults Helps Create Equitable Change for Students
Hello! My name is Spiffy, I’m an Interplanetary Journalist. I’ve been speaking with innovators from around the world who are working to improve the world for our children. Today I’m thrilled to be in Atlanta to speak with Claudine Miles, co-founder and CEO of Restore More. She’s inspiring teachers, parents and leaders to step up and be ready to support our children and youth in school and at home. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Welcome, Claudine! Let’s jump right in! Can you tell me what challenges you’re addressing through your organization, Restore More?
Claudine: Thanks, for having me, Spiffy! Our kids have gone through and are going through trauma. The trauma they’re experiencing at home, on the walk to school, or in the classroom, leads them to act out—and teachers are the ones that have to overcome this challenge. Teachers aren’t prepared to deal with the consequences of this trauma, particularly with a pandemic happening. Add in the bias that we inherently have and you get a lot of difficulty in the classroom. As a result, kids going through trauma, particularly Black children, are disciplined in ways that aren't effective. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, parents are seeing how deep-rooted this challenge actually is and they don’t have the tools either. Ultimately, it’s the children that lose. This is why we created Restore More.
Spiffy: I can’t wait to hear more! What were some of the key motivating factors that made you want to address childhood trauma and the adults who work with and nurture kids?
Claudine: Well, Spiffy, Restore More trains teachers and parents to overcome their kids’ behavioral challenges, while teaching them to take better care of themselves. I started this organization because I wanted to take the parts of my job that I loved as an Assistant Principal and make a career that would have a long-lasting and far-reaching impact. Our training focuses on four areas: restorative practices, anti-racism, wellness, and social-emotional health. Especially in this current season, each of these areas of training helps schools better care for their communities. That is what motivates us to keep showing up and doing good work.
Spiffy: Kids need adults who show up every day! Can you tell me how Restore More is helping to create a more equitable world?
Claudine: We aren't only training teachers and school leaders on bias and racism, we're also advocating for policy that changes how students experience discipline in schools. The school-to-prison pipeline is a serious issue that we care a lot about, so in 2019 we started hosting community meetings to talk about it. At the beginning of 2021, the community, my team and I were able to get policies passed in Atlanta Public Schools that impacts 53,000 students and supports more restorative approaches to discipline. This is how we make sure we are creating lasting and equitable change for students.
Restore More organized an Educators for Black Lives March in the summer of 2020 to advocate for students of color. (Photo Credit: Chanden Marzette from Vision7 Entertainment.)
Spiffy: I love it, Claudine. What milestones have you achieved that you’re particularly proud to have reached?
Claudine: One recent milestone Restore More made was winning a $15,000 pitch competition with Atlanta's Women's Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) and the Atlanta Hawks. It's super reaffirming to get support from your own community to keep going. With this, we've been able to keep growing and bring on 20 new facilitators to support our work and help train schools across the country.
Spiffy: Congrats! That's phenomenal! I want to turn to failure for a minute. So many entrepreneurs experience failure—when have you faced failure and what did you learn from it?
Claudine: I recently attended a virtual pitch event where we met one-on-one with random investors. When I was pitching Restore More, I made an ask of $25,000, nervous that it may have been too much. The investor actually told me she loved the work and it was super aligned to her company's mission. However, they start funding others at $100,000 and my ask was too low for her to be able to help. I learned a few things from this. First, do as much research as possible when meeting with anyone so you are informed. Then, be confident and make the big asks because you never know how others can help you—and vice versa! There's always learning in the losses, so keep going. Of course, I still pitch my business, still apply for grants, and still advocate for funding, because setbacks can be motivation.
Spiffy: What notable lesson have you learned from a child lately?
Claudine: My six-year-old son recently told me that I'm doing great work for others and that makes me famous. I laughed and told him, Mommy isn't famous. But when I thought about it, I smiled. Sometimes we don't see the impact of our own work and we need reminders from others. My takeaway was that it's good to see yourself through the eyes of others, especially kids. They see things so simply, and in a way many adults forget.
Spiffy: Before we sign off, Claudine, is there anything else you would love to tell our readers?
Claudine: If you're reading this and things have been tough lately, I just want to tell you you're not alone. You matter and you're needed. This season has been hard on so many families and what we need is a lot more love. So know that you are magnificently capable and loved, even at your worst.
Spiffy: Even I needed that encouragement today, Claudine. Thanks a million for talking to me. It’s been an honor.
Claudine Miles, co-founder and CEO of Restore More, is originally from Rhode Island. She earned a degree from Hampton University and later joined Teach For America and moved to Atlanta, Georgia to teach 6th Grade Science at KIPP WAYS Academy. Her final role was Dean of Restorative-Practices, which focused on student’s social-emotional learning. In 2018, Claudine launched Restore More and, with her team, has created a national firm that's making a lasting impact on schools. She's an avid reader, a mom to a six-year-old, and a wife who's active in her community. (Nominated by Girls Gotta Run Foundation. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 30, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.