Communities In Schools Eastern PA Announces New Restorative Practices Programs to Strengthen Schools
The Restorative Practices team leads trainings, develops resources, and creates brave spaces for students, educators, and community members to build healthy relationships.
Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania (CISEasternPA), an agency that ensures every student, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic background has what they need to succeed in school and beyond, recently announced the hiring of a Restorative Practices team whose goals are to foster healthy relationships among educators and students and promote equity in schools and their surrounding communities.
CISEasternPA will implement restorative practices agency-wide through training and resources, while also partnering with Allentown School District to coach district educators in cultivating equitable school communities where everyone feels heard and respected. CISEasternPA maintains that the inclusion of the practices in area schools will result in an increase of healthy relationships that build supportive communities where instances of bullying and violence are decreased and where everyone feels a sense of belonging.
“At CIS, the foundation of our work is relationships,” said Tim Mulligan, President of CISEasternPA. “Restorative Practices is a powerful tool that creates a culture where relationships are respected, participants learn through conflict, and individuals can restore and heal damaged relationships. Our implementation of Restorative Practices is a game changer for our schools and our organization.”
“ASD’s journey towards becoming a restorative district would not be possible without the support of community partners like CISEasternPA,” said Thomas Parker, Allentown School District Superintendent. “The CIS commitment to Restorative Practices further cements the importance of building meaningful relationships within our school communities and the strategic alignment between the two organizations.”
The inaugural restorative practices team at CISEasternPA, comprised of Restorative Practices Project Manager, Carissa Casey, M.A. and Restorative Practices Coach, Lynne Woodard, M.S., collectively bring over 25 years of experience in education and training, with a focus on student-centered learning, relationship-building, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) work. The team has already seen success in training both CISEasternPA staff and school district educators in a signature restorative practice tool, Listening Circles, that bring together educators, parents, and/or students to share and process feelings and experiences in a brave space.
“The restorative practices team at Communities In Schools of Eastern PA is committed to building healthy relationships, developing and organizing opportunities to promote equity and social capital,” said the Restorative Practices Team. “We are dedicated to creating a supportive climate that fosters acknowledgement and understanding, repairs harm, and ensures growth and advancement of all members of our community.”
Prior to launching the team in October 2020, CISEasternPA worked closely with The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) to train all of its administrators and school-based coordinators in this unique approach. Now, with Restorative Pratcices incorporated into its daily meetings, conversations, and conflict-resolution efforts, CISEasternPA hopes to showcase how restorative practices can positively influence workplace cultures as well.
More information about Restorative Practices and resources to help educators and parents use Circles in school and at home can be found at CISEasternPA’s website: ciseasternpa.org/restorative-practices
Special Acknowledgement: The vast majority of the concepts shared in this resource guide have been inspired by the ancient wisdom of Indigenous Communities throughout the world. Susan and Ted Wachtel are the founders of the International Institute for Restorative Practices. Their work with at-risk youth has been fully informed by their commitment and research into relational and participatory practices that deepen the connections within communities.
About Communities in Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania
Communities in Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania is part of the Communities In Schools national network, which consists of independent 501(c)(3) organizations serving over 1.6 million students in 25 states and the District of Columbia. With caring adults serving over 32,000 students in 41 schools throughout Allentown, Bethlehem Area, Brandywine Heights Area, East Penn, Easton Area, Fleetwood Area, Kutztown Area, Reading, Whitehall-Coplay, and Wilson (Berks) School Districts, CIS’ mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. We ensure every student, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic background has what they need to succeed in school and beyond.