• Students at CSF BuxmontThe restorative environment at Community Service Foundation and Buxmont Academy (CSF Buxmont) schools for at-risk youth enhances the effectiveness of the Aggression Replacement Training® cognitive-behavioral intervention program.

    This is why the Aggression Replacement Training program is more effective with youth at CSF schools than with other Pennsylvania youth, theorizes CSF Buxmont Executive Director, Dr. Craig Adamson. “At CSF Buxmont schools, students are surrounded by a supportive treatment model that includes counseling and peer support, which creates many opportunities — all day long — to enrich what students are learning in the Aggression Replacement Training program,” says Dr. Adamson.

  • This piece, by Laura Mirsky, the IIRP's assistant director for communications, was published originally by Educational Leadership Magazine, Summer 2014, Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Download a pdf of the article from Educational Leadership.


    When schools use restorative practices to build relationships and community, students’ attitudes change for the better.

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  • Students pose during "Squid Dissection Day" at Two Rock Elementary School, where Mike Simpson is currently superintendent and principalStudents pose during "Squid Dissection Day" at Two Rock Elementary School, where Mike Simpson is currently superintendent and principalBack in the late 1990s, Mike Simpson, then a middle school administrator in South Burlington, Vermont, pioneered the use of Real Justice restorative conferences in schools. He also trained to be a trainer with the IIRP. At the time, the state of Vermont was experimenting with new ways to administer justice (see last month’s, “Serious Offenders Make a


  • Harik-Cofer-headshotEducational associate Harik Cofer didn’t “buy into” restorative practices at first. “Why would I do that fluffy stuff?” In his position — similar to middle school assistant principal — at National Academy Foundation School, in Baltimore, he was focused on closing the achievement gap through curriculum and academics. “Little did I know that if I did the community building first I could exceed expectations.”

    Cofer says his school is probably one of the better educational institutions in Baltimore City, but there are still plenty of problems. In particular, he laments the loss of feelings of pride and community kids used to have about school.

  • restorative practices“Usually teachers do too much talking,” said Mike Selvenis, principal of Thomas W. Holtzman Elementary School. “Restorative practices give teachers a way to get out of the way of students. Circles help make the classroom a comfortable place to get conversation going.”

    Selvenis has committed Holtzman Elementary, which serves grades three to five and is located on the outskirts of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, to school-wide restorative practices implementation. “From what I have seen,” he said, “the strongest implication is for the classroom. I see teachers utilizing circles for instruction and actually working on academics. Teachers are using circles


  • restorative practicesFather Chris Riley, Founder and CEO of Youth Off the Streets: "Restorative practices are focused on healing the community rather than retribution and blame and our troubled kids need this to be the focus."Youth Off the Streets (YOTS), a large youth-serving agency located in and around Sydney, Australia, has been on a journey of utilizing restorative justice to respond to misbehavior and has recently expanded that to implementing restorative practices to build community and relationships. The organization runs a variety of


  • CSF-Buxmont-restorative-circlesLiz Burian, who teaches Life Skills and Digital and Fine Arts at CSF Buxmont’s Bethlehem, PA, school, uses circles with students to present and review academic course content, and to maintain positive levels of behavior to ensure a great learning environment.

    At the beginning of each class, says Liz, every student identifies an area of behavior that could be a problem — like talking or getting distracted — and says what they’re going to work on that during the class. Liz then relies on the students themselves to help maintain a safe, quiet learning space.

    “If you send a student out of class, you get rid of the problem but you actually take your own power away.” Liz says, “As a teacher you have to


  • Yes I Can AwardEmmanuel Zayas received a 2014 "Yes I Can" Award from the Council for Exceptional Children.Emmanuel Zayas – Manny – a senior at Freedom High School, recently received a Council for Exceptional Children's 2014 Yes I Can Award for his success transitioning from school to work.

    Manny's emotional support case manager, Deanna Webb, has worked with him


  • restorative circlePhoto by Tup Wanders at Flickr Creative Commons.The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) is pleased to announce a partnership with the Center for Social Organization of Schools at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education to conduct a three-year randomized field trial evaluation of the IIRP’s SaferSanerSchools Whole-School Change Program. The study will establish the impact of school-wide restorative practices on reducing disparities in discipline and overall


  • racial disparities and discipline Photo by Maryland GovPics at Flickr Creative CommonsDisparities in out-of-school suspension and expulsion by race, gender and sexual orientation are a critical issue in our schools.

    The Discipline Disparities Research to Practice Collaborative, a panel of 26 national experts — researchers, educators, advocates and policy analysts — presented to Congress on March 13 the most comprehensive compilation and analysis of research on exclusionary discipline ever


  • Health Sciences High and Middle College, a public charter school based in San Diego, California, USA, is located in the City Heights neighborhood, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city. The high school was founded seven years ago and now has about 550 students; the middle school is in its first year with 130 students. About 60 percent of students are Hispanic, with high diversity among the remaining 40 percent. Students come from wealthy to very poor families and everything in between. One of the unique features of the school is that high school students conduct weekly internships, mostly at hospitals. Beginning about 3 1/2 years ago all staff have been systematically trained in restorative practices through the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) and have implemented restorative practices school-wide.

    In this article, Jeff Bonine, principal of the middle school, and Dominique Smith, school social worker for the middle


  • The following post is by Suzanne Bartel, a grade 4/5 teacher at Cheam Elementary School in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. She has been doing restorative practices in her classroom for four years and says that this year three of six classes in her school are using RP with the other three classes showing great interest. To enhance her already experienced practice, Suzanne recently attended four days of Basic Restorative Practices professional development offered by IIRP Canada and wrote this post afterwards.


    “Because of our class circles, students accepted more responsibility for their roles in both creating and solving the problems. It became much easier to encourage students to solve their problems


  • The following article discusses two 2013 symposia, one held in the town of Cobourg in southern Ontario, Canada, another in Thunder Bay in the northern part of the province, both funded by the Ontario Ministry of Education to develop restorative practices in schools and the community. Bruce Schenk, director of IIRP Canada said, “Restorative practices is not just being done by a school board [district] here and there, but is a potentially recognized and supported approach right across the province.” RP is not confined to Ontario. In a companion piece, an elementary school teacher in British Columbia on the west coast of Canada, who recently attended an IIRP Canada professional development event near Vancouver,


  • imageThe following article by IIRP Assistant Director for Communications Laura Mirsky and IIRP Trainer and Consultant Steve Korr appeared in Principal Leadership, Vol. 14, February 2014. The publication coincides with a presentation by Korr at the National Association of School Principals' 2014 Ignite Conference.


    How can schools teach high-level academic content effectively and also promote students’ social and emotional development and help them become better members of society? Those goals are not mutually exclusive; they feed each other. Restorative practices provide an overarching philosophy and specific strategies that develop relationships, communication, empathy, and accountability and support school climates that enable


  • The research referenced in this article, "The Promise of Restorative Practices to Transform Teacher-Student Relationships and Achieve Equity in School Discipline," has since been published in theJournal of Educational and Psychological Consultation. Read the abstract and purchase the report.


    Department of EducationOn January 8, the U.S. Federal Government issued new guidelines recommending that schools revise their discipline policies to move away from zero tolerance policies, which


  • You may download a PDF of this article for your personal use.

    At a Cody High School football game.Students at a Detroit Tigers baseball game.Detroit, Michigan, USA, can claim some of the highest rates of crime, violence, school expulsion, dropouts and truancy in the country. But as Henry McClendon, a pastor, program officer with the Skillman Foundation and IIRP licensed trainer and board member observed, “We don’t have a crime problem, we have a


  • Screen shot 2013-12-12 at 1.44.41 PMCSF and Buxmont Academy teachers are engaging and involving students in learning by using restorative practices to teach academic subjects.

    Chris Boretskii, coordinator of the CSF Buxmont Pottstown School, talks about Pottstown’s social studies teacher, Michael Packard, as an example.

    “His classes are almost exclusively taught in a circle,” says Chris. This makes it an expectation that every student will contribute. Students are engaged to participate this way in discussions of current events and history.

    "We don’t allow kids to be invisible,” adds Chris. “Everyone has to participate and be verbal. This creates


  • Photo by Jen Chien.Photo by Jen ChienJan Chien, of San Francisco local public radio KALW, reports on restorative practices at Harvey Milk Elementary School:


    In addition to the whole-school circle in the morning, each class has its own daily community circle. Every classroom has a carpeted area where students and teachers sit on the floor to share their thoughts or feelings. In Marisa Martinez’s 3rd grade class, students pass a small stuffed panda around the


  • Anne Martin, director of restorative practices for Shalem Mental Health Network in Ontario, Canada, recently reviewed Margaret Murray's new mystery, Forging Justice.forging justice

    Police Detective Claire Cassidy, the protagonist of Margaret Murray’s recently published novel Forging Justice: A Restorative Justice Mystery, is ready to quit her job. When it appears that Pee Wee Lebovitch has reoffended, this time killing an elderly woman, and three teenage girls have brutally attacked a storeowner leaving him in a coma, Claire has had it. She feels she cannot help keep the city safe. Her twelve years on the police force in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania feel like a waste of time. Is it time to turn in her badge?

    While investigating the attack on the storeowner, Claire meets Democracy High School’s vice-principal Daniel Pierce. “Adolescence is a special kind


  • Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 3.47.31 PMThe International Institute for Restorative Practices has been invited to present plenaries and breakout sessions at a series of summits across New York State to share how restorative practices can be used in schools to help end the school-to-prison pipeline and transform disciplinary policies that disproportionately impact minority youth.

    The New York State Permanent Judicial Commission on Justice for Children, chaired by Former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, has been working on issues regarding exclusionary school discipline and its connection to the justice system for the last few years. With funding from