Turning Lessons into Practice

Elana Strout is a current IIRP Graduate Student and social studies teacher at Mount Desert Island High School in Bar Harbor, Maine. She has been teaching since 2012 in the areas of world history, sociology, psychology, and abnormal psychology. After learning more about restorative practices, Elana is developing ways to incorporate her lessons into both her personal and professional life.

Q: What brought you to the IIRP?

A: I came to the IIRP to pursue a graduate degree in restorative practices. Though I had known about restorative practices for at least ten years, my understanding grew exponentially last year when I was part of a team to incorporate restorative practices more fully into our school’s policy. As part of this mission, I attended a professional development course through the IIRP Graduate School and knew that this relational work was important to who I know myself to be and to how I want to evolve as an educator, as a mother, and as a community member.

Q: What does your professional work entail, and what makes you passionate about it?

A: I’m just in my first course of the master’s degree but already am invigorated by the readings, encouraged by the discussions, and truly amazed at my journey of understanding - all the way from the history of circles in indigenous and BIPOC communities, the inherent human dignity of social connection and inclusion, the psychology of affect and emotion – and all the way to implementation in my own real life. I can see this working in real time, and I don’t know if I’ve ever put theory into practice in such a meaningful way before. This work fills my cup in a way I find surprising because it’s not just professionally useful but personally and emotionally satisfying. It gives me hope for the future of education, and it allows me to know myself better in all my capacities.

Q: What would you like to see in the restorative practices field in the future?

A: I would like to see more schools have restorative experts on staff in the same way you might see literacy specialists or instructional coaches employed. I think this relational work is equally important for student success.

Restorative Works Cover
Restorative Works Year in Review 2023 (PDF)

All our donors are acknowledged annually in Restorative Works.