Model Program

  • Restorative practices helped Joe get on the right path. “Restorative practices helped me look at what I did wrong instead of always blaming other people,” says Joe RoyEighteen-year-old Joe Roy has been on a bumpy journey, but now he’s excited to launch himself into life.

    When he moved to a CSF group home and enrolled at CSF Buxmont’s Sellersville school at 16, Joe’s life was in turmoil. (Community Service Foundation and Buxmont Academy are model programs of the IIRP dedicated to providing education, counseling, foster care and other services to help young people and their families grow and change through restorative practices.) Joe's biological mother had given him up for adoption; then his adoptive parents rescinded their guardianship.

    For months, Joe stirred up trouble at CSF, resisting authority and “exciting near riots” among his fellow students, says CSF Assistant Director of Day Treatment and International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) Graduate School alumna Pam Thompson.

    Joe himself says, “I was oppositional. And I didn’t like to hang out with people.” When Joe’s behavior crossed the line for the umpteenth time, he was told it was up to him to convince CSF to allow him to stay.

  • Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 3.24.09 PMOn the very first day at all Community Service Foundation and Buxmont Academy schools (demonstration programs of the International Institute for Restorative Practices Graduate School), students meet in circles to set “norms"(agreed-upon standards) for their school.

    This starts off the school year with a restorative practice, doing things with students instead of telling them what to do. The thinking goes, if students set their own norms, they feel ownership and want to abide by them. They also feel responsible for holding their fellow students accountable to do the same.

    Karen Engle, coordinator of the CSF Buxmont school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA, says staff engages students to come up with norms for their classroom, groups, lunch and school bus.

  • 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 confidence and boosts kids' self-esteem, which can't help but improve their academic performance."

    Michael takes the restorative concept of participation and engagement further. He prepares students for tests in a circle, asking them to come up with some pertinent questions to ask in tests.

    And the kids love it. Says one student, “Circles make me feel more involved because I am able talk a lot easier. I think if we weren’t in a circle other kids wouldn’t want to participate.”

  • 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 realize you have a great community in your classroom to support positive behavior, instead of relying on punitive measures.”

  • restorative practices breakfast Dr. Joe Roy (r), superintendent of Bethlehem Area School District, discusses the impact of restorative practices at Freedom and Liberty High Schools, while Shannon Mayfield, former principal of William Allen High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania, listens.“After two years of restorative practices, there are no more ‘habitual offenders’ at Liberty and Freedom high schools. And there has been a 50 percent drop in expulsions,” Dr. Joseph Roy, superintendent of the Bethlehem Area School District, told guests at Celebrating Restorative Works, a Restorative Practices Foundation fundraising breakfast in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA, on Sunday, March 30, 2014.

    Dr. Roy explained, “With restorative practices, students are staying in school and learning.” Instead of exclusion for misbehavior, the focus is on building relationships and holding students accountable. Liberty and Freedom are the first schools to participate in Bethlehem’s planned district-wide restorative practices initiative, with the IIRP Graduate School’s SaferSanerSchools Whole-School Change Program.

  • 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.

  • csfbuxmont-computersGiving students voice and choice is essential to creating engaged learners. It’s vital that teachers value students’ life experiences and incorporate them into the learning process, enabling them to internalize what is being taught. Additionally, in a restorative classroom, learning is a shared responsibility between the students and the teacher — a natural extension of CSF Buxmont’s restorative culture.

    “We have high expectations for students. We put them in the driver’s seat to take responsibility for their education, engaging them and having them be a part of the process,” explains Pam Thompson, Assistant Director of School/Day Treatment.

  • 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.”

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Carol E. Davis, Flickr Creative CommonsU.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo by Carol E. Davis, Flickr Creative Commons

    Last year, during a shared bus ride, two teens from a Buxmont Academy school upset a group of first- and second-grade Catholic school students by telling them there was no Santa Claus.

    Since Buxmont is an IIRP model program that employs restorative practices, when the principal of the Catholic school called to report the event, Buxmont staff suggested a circle to hold the teens accountable and give them the chance to apologize.

    Buxmont counselor Jean Scott took the two boys who made the offending comments to the Catholic school to conduct the circle, along with two other youth to serve as friends and emotional support for the boys. They met with the principal first.

  • Erin's_Class_PtownCROP

    The children at Buxmont Academy Elementary at Pottstown, in Pennsylvania, are working hard to overcome an array of learning and life difficulties.

    “The children come to us with a range of challenges,” explains Erin Keller, the school’s coordinator, who earned her master's degree at the IIRP in 2015. Social and emotional learning is crucial to enable the students — in grades one through six — to move forward.

  • RRC State AwardCommunity Service Foundation's (CSF's) Restorative Reporting Centers, a model program of the International Institute for Restorative Practices Graduate School, was named Community-Based Program of the Year by the Juvenile Court Judges' Commission, at the 2016 James E. Anderson Pennsylvania Conference on Juvenile Justice, in Harrisburg, on November 3.

  • QNB Bank presented a donation of $2,000 to the Buxmont Academy on July 5, 2017.

    QNB CSF(l-r) Courtney Covelens, commercial loan officer, QNB Bank; April Donahue, Colmar branch manager, QNB Bank; and Craig Adamson, president, CSF and Buxmont Academy.

    Buxmont Academy, a model program of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), is dedicated to providing education, counseling, foster care and other services to help at-risk youth and their families in eastern Pennsylvania to grow and change through restorative practices. Buxmont Academy and sister organization Community Service Foundation (CSF) operate 5 school/day programs, an elementary school program and four community-based foster homes, in addition to in-home supervision programs, restorative reporting centers and restorative services for schools.

    QNB Bank currently operates eleven branches in Bucks, Montgomery and Lehigh Counties and offers commercial and retail banking in the communities it serves.

  • Tasha JenkinsTasha Jenkins is dedicated to improving foster care for children. She was an angry young woman after a lifetime in numerous foster homes. Then she arrived at the IIRP model programs, Community Service Foundation and Buxmont Academy (CSF Buxmont), in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and a new world opened up for her.

  • new professors 2017 2In the past year, the IIRP Graduate School has welcomed four new faculty members, enhancing our geographic diversity and expertise in the areas of research and education. Meet (clockwise) Fernanda Fonseca-Rosenblatt, Ph.D., A. Migue Tello, Gina Baral Abrams, Dr.P.H., and Michael DeAntonio, Ph.D.

  • Univest Corporation announced a $10,000 donation to Buxmont Academy on March 7, 2018. Univest made this donation through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, Univest Lehigh Valley Education GivingBuxmont Academy Executive Director Michael DeAntonio, Ph.D., is fifth from the right.
    enabling them to direct their Pennsylvania taxes to Buxmont Academy. This donation supports educational opportunities for financially disadvantaged students at Buxmont Academy.

    Buxmont Academy is dedicated to providing education and counseling to youth in eastern Pennsylvania. A model program of the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP), Buxmont Academy operates 5 school/day programs.

    Univest Corporation awarded $75,000 to nine educational organizations in Lehigh County that qualify for the Pennsylvania EITC program. Buxmont Academy Executive Director Michael DeAntonio, Ph.D., is fifth from the right.

  • Buxmont Grads 2018 PottstownBuxmont Academy Pottstown graduates (left to right) Cesar Dominguez-Zavala from Shillington, Justice Lewis from Bally, Emily Overley from Exeter Township, Nathan Harris from Eagleville and Jordan Rubino from Schwenksville.

    When I attended Buxmont Academy's graduation in June 2018, I didn’t know what to expect. I'd had no interactions with the students. All I knew was that this was a small group of 6th-12th graders who were using restorative practices to learn how to better understand their emotions while achieving academically.

    When I arrived at the school, I could immediately tell that this was so much more than a graduation. My limited knowledge didn’t come close to describing what these students had achieved.

    The ceremony began with the premiere of “CSF: The Shortical.” This video of a short musical about their school starred the students and featured original songs, dances and dialogue. The community they had created was obvious. They had come together from different places and life experiences and created something to celebrate that. Seeing their pride in this accomplishment was truly inspiring.

  • Buxmont Bethlehem Grads 2019High school graduation is always a special, emotional event, but the graduation ceremony at Buxmont Academy Bethlehem was uniquely powerful. I didn't know any of the students personally. I had only briefly interacted with the three graduates after a tour of the school a few weeks before. But by the end of the ceremony, I felt my eyes well up.

    I expected a speech from the school coordinator Karen Engle, but I didn’t expect the students to share such compelling stories of transformation and community.

    There was a palpable sense of comradery throughout the day. “The ceremony is to celebrate the graduates, of course, but we are also celebrating all the other students as they return to their public schools or continue here,” Karen explained.

    Almost every student received at least one award: most improved, most curious, most enthusiastic, most supportive... Every student also shared their proudest change. The student changes made a strong impression on me: opening up to people, controlling anger, making better decisions and successfully staying at one school for a whole year.

    The three graduates are testaments to the importance of community and commitment to personal growth at Buxmont Academy.

  • Mural BuxmontUnder the guidance of art teacher Heather Walter, students at the newly renovated Buxmont Academy Pottstown campus designed a mural depicting the promise and challenge of making life changes!For nearly 45 years, Community Service Foundation (CSF) has operated counseling, foster care and other programs serving youth and families in southeastern Pennsylvania. These programs pioneered many ideas that would be incorporated into the field of restorative practices, and they continue to serve as model restorative programs of the IIRP Graduate School.

    CSF is always striving to refine its offerings to meet the changing needs of our community. Jerry Bradley, Assistant Director of Community Based Services, says they recently launched a new weekend program for young people on juvenile probation called Citizenship and Social Responsibility (CSR) Weekend Program. Sessions run a full day Saturday and half day on Sunday. Youth take part in meaningful community service projects in the morning followed by life- and social-skills building exercises such as personal financial literacy, public speaking, study skills, computer skills, and social and digital responsibility. Families are also invited to participate with staff and students to discuss what has been learned.