Restoring Community

These articles were formerly posted on our Restorative Works website.

Circle about standardized testsStandardized testing causes stress for many students. But at Buxmont Academy Elementary Program at Pottstown, in Pennsylvania, the staff takes a restorative approach to these tests, which not only reduces students’ anxiety, but can actually integrate standardized testing into a restorative environment.

“The first time we had to administer the PSSAs [Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests], we just did it, without thinking about it, says Jessica Petrolati, coordinator of Pottstown Elementary. “But the students got so upset! Many of our students have learning difficulties, so the tests just made them feel really bad about themselves. Ever since, we have approached the tests very differently.”


Photo by Rupert Ganzer at Flickr Creative Commons.Photo by Rupert Ganzer at Flickr Creative Commons.The National School Climate Center's 18th Summer Institute, "Policy, Practice & Leadership Development," takes place June 25-26, 2015 in New York City. Conference participants are eligible to apply their experience toward IIRP graduate credit in RP 540, instructed by Jonathan Cohen, Ph.D., co-founder & President, National School Climate Center and Adjunct Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. This 540 course is also the online portion of the July 20-21, 2015 IIRP Symposium: Integrating School Climate Reform Efforts.

The Community and Restorative Practices Collaborative will host a conference on restorative practices, May 8, 2015, at Lehman College, CUNY, The Bronx, New York, for educators, students, parents, community organizations and agencies. Download the Call for Presenters.

STARS (Students Taking a Right Stand) Nashville has been making a difference with young people, families and communities since it began helping students with drug and alcohol issues in 1984. Today a large nonprofit organization with 80 employees, STARS provides prevention, intervention and treatment services to address bullying, substance abuse and violence in schools, and with youth, families and communities across central Tennessee.

STARS has been incorporating restorative practices into its programs since 2000. “We’ve been committed to these processes since our first training with the IIRP 15 years ago,” says STARS CEO Rodger Dinwiddie, adding, “We’ve seen great success with these practices, with families, schools and community programs.” Long licensed by the IIRP to provide restorative practices training, STARS also sponsors IIRP professional development events in Nashville (including an upcoming Basic Restorative Practices event on April 21-24, 2015).

One STARS initiative involves facilitating formal restorative conferencing circles with juvenile court issues in southwest Tennessee. This has had “really good outcomes,” says Dinwiddie. “Families are seeing a greatly reduced chance for future harm. It’s one of most exciting things we’ve seen.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 10.17.59 AMA serious cyber-threat closed down a middle school in Maine for three days. How would students and staff be able to come back to school and feel safe again? Thanks to their preliminary training in “restorative practices,” the school community found a way, not only to return and help each other feel safe, but to turn the incident into an opportunity to build a stronger school community.

Charles Haddock, principal of Windham Middle School, in the small town of Windham, Maine, received an anonymous email threat on Monday, December 15, 2014. The threat raised urgent concerns because it implied violence. Within seven minutes, Windham Middle School’s students were loaded onto buses and on their way home, and Windham-Raymond School District’s superintendent, Sanford Prince, had evacuated all seven schools in the district.


Miguel Tello, Representative for IIRP Latinoamérica, who was recently elected to the IIRP Board of Trustees, discusses how circles make sincere conversations possible and illustrates his point with an anecdote from a school in El Salvador.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMiguel Tello, Representative for IIRP Latinoamérica, has been elected to the IIRP Board of Trustees.

“I am delighted to be able to serve on the Board,” says Tello. “I have great respect and admiration for the IIRP and its efforts to make our world a more restorative place.”

Originally from Mexico, Tello now lives and works in San Jose, Costa Rica. He first got involved with the IIRP when he contacted IIRP founder Ted Wachtel for permission to translate Wachtel’s article “Restorative Justice in Everyday Life” into Spanish to use at a Prison Fellowship International conference. Tello then took IIRP trainings and became an IIRP trainer.

Call for Presenters: 19th IIRP World Conference


October 26-28, 2015 , Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

We invite you to submit a proposal to share knowledge and advancements in the social science of restorative practices. This year we have created several different learning experiences so that you can present your information to others. Propose a session using any of these three formats:

restorative practitioners

The following is a guest post by Ian D. Marder, Ph.D. student, School of Law, University of Leeds, UK and founder, Community of Restorative Researchers.


This article argues in favor of the establishment of a national organization in the United Kingdom which represents and is run collectively by volunteer restorative practitioners. Such an organization is now necessary given the widespread use of volunteers in restorative practices delivery in this jurisdiction. The organization would help to enable both best practice and resources to be shared by encouraging communication and collaboration between the wide array of organizations and individuals involved in the delivery of restorative practices in a voluntary capacity.


Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School in Nashville, which uses restorative practices in discipline. Photo by Grace Tatter.Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School in Nashville, which uses restorative practices in discipline. Photo by Grace Tatter."To improve school discipline, improve teacher behavior" suggests an article for the Teacher Project, an education reporting initiative at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, about restorative practices in San Francisco schools.

Students Taking a Right Stand (STARS) Nashville, an IIRP licensee, is helping Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools students "Talk it out" rather than get suspended or expelled. (STARS CEO Roger Dinwiddie will be participating in the IIRP's Presidential Symposium: Integrating School Climate Reform Efforts, July 20-21, 2015.)

"The Rock Star Principals" from Downington, Pennsylvania, reflect during their podcast upon how a new study showing that "Suspensions Hurt 'Good Kids', Too" supports their own argument for restorative practices.

A Family Satisfied with FGDM, from the Famly Voices VideoA family satisfied with their FGDM, the North American term for a Family Group Conference, from the Family Voices videoIn spring 2014, the Dutch parliament approved an amendment to the country’s Law on Child Welfare that gives every citizen of the Netherlands, as of January 1, 2015, the right to make their own plan first when social services has been called upon to intervene in the care of a child or adolescent.

Rob Van Pagée, founder of the Dutch NGO Eigen Kracht Centrale, heralds the law as an important step in the development of what he calls the “new welfare state,” in which decisions that most affect people’s lives can be made by them and their communities of support.

“Citizens now have a right to first make a ‘family group plan,’” says Van Pagée.

Recently Mayor Rahm Emmanuel formed a Commission for a Safer Chicago that pulled together over 130 community and faith leaders, practitioners, subject matter experts, city staff, parents, and youth united in the belief that violence is preventable, not inevitable. The commission has created a Strategic Plan for Youth Violence for 2015. Its pillars include creating restorative school communities and building bridges between youth and police. Watch a video about the commission's strategic plan and read an excerpt from the executive summary below.