Restoring Community

***August 9, 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

IIRP Graduate School Awards First Shawn Szuch Scholarships, Supporting Innovative, Aspirational Students

Melissa Ash crop copyMelissa AshClaire Fall16 LR 1cropped CropClaire SinclairClaire Sinclair, a kindergarten teacher in Maplewood, NJ, and Melissa Ash, of Easton, Pa., an outreach educator at Lehigh Valley Crime Victims Council, have been awarded the first annual Shawn Szuch Scholarships by the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) Graduate School.

Claire employs restorative practices in her kindergarten class to enable the children to get to know each other and build empathy, holding "circles" twice daily.

"When we expose younger children to restorative practices we can help them become compassionate human beings," she explains. "It is my hope that these children can use what they learn as they grow up into benevolent individuals, creating an empathetic and caring society." She has also shared restorative practices with others in her school. Most of the teachers are now using circles in their classrooms to build community and relationships.

Melissa runs workshops in middle and high schools to help students understand violence, harassment and bullying and identify some of the signs to prevent such occurrences from happening. Her goal is to help students maintain physical and emotional safety.

The teens in Melissa's classes become very engaged in discussions on topics like dating violence and cyberbullying. "I love working with adolescents," she affirms. "Restorative practices has enabled me to really learn from the kids. I always thought I listened well, but I realized I had been making a lot of assumptions about what the kids thought. Now I allow the class to actually have a discussion. They really get behind their opinions, and they get to know each other better."

The Shawn Szuch Scholarship is awarded to a candidate pursing a Master of Science in Restorative Practices. The scholarships are in memory of Shawn Szuch, a young man who overcame adversity with courage and determination and gave his life for his country.

The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) Graduate School teaches students to build relationships, resolve conflict constructively and lead by empowering others. During their studies, they are able to develop an international network of professionals who share their commitment to positively influencing human behavior and civil society. Through hybrid and online courses, the IIRP offers a Master of Science and Graduate Certificate in Restorative Practices to professionals in education, criminal justice, social services, workplace management and other fields.

Restorative practices is an emerging social science that studies how to restore and develop social capital, social discipline, emotional well-being and civic engagement through participatory learning and decision-making.

###

***July 6, 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

IIRP Symposium to Explore Concrete Techniques and Alternative Approaches for Transforming Trauma

Led by Dr. Frida Rundell, IIRP associate professor and educational psychologist with over 30 years of experience working with at-risk youth and families, the symposium will provide a blend of theory, academic research and practical knowledge for developing healthy habits, pathways to healing and self-care.

***June 20, 2017 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

IIRP Graduate School Welcomes New Faculty Member

Gina AbramsGina Baral Abrams, Dr.P.H.

The IIRP (International Institute for Restorative Practices) Graduate School, in Bethlehem, Pa., is pleased to welcome Gina Baral Abrams, Dr.P.H., as the new Director of Research and Program Evaluation and Assistant Professor.

Most recently, Dr. Abrams has been teaching research methods in the online M.S.W. program at Boston University School of Social Work. She was previously Special Assistant to the Vice Provost for Student Affairs at Lehigh University and Director for Health Promotion and Wellness at Princeton University.

Dr. Abrams's background in public health, social work, and educational statistics, measurement and evaluation will enable her to contribute to the growth of the Graduate School. And her experience in mixed-methods research, program evaluation and online teaching, as well as two decades working in higher education, will provide valuable learning opportunities for our students.