Fostering Inclusion and Belonging through Restorative Justice Practices
August 16, 2023
Photo: DEI Coordinator Tony Strat-Cortez presents at an all-school assembly last year.
Thetford Academy’s Dean of Students, Siobhan Lopez and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Coordinator, Tony Strat-Cortez recently participated in a three-day institute focused on restorative justice practices. Building Restorative Practices, hosted by Great Schools Partnership, focused on how educators can implement restorative practices to create “safer, more inclusive, and supportive learning environments that empower every student to reach their full potential.”
Restorative justice has been a key focus of Thetford Academy’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work over the last year. TA has begun to implement restorative practices like “calling in and calling out” (a method to address behavioral issues on the spot) and restorative circles (a practice used to resolve conflict and repair harm), among others, to address discipline and social concerns at school. These early efforts have shown positive results.
Building Restorative Practices was an opportunity for TA’s team to deepen their skills and develop additional strategies for use in and outside of the classroom. “Fundamental restorative practices, such as active listening, empathy, and inclusive communication can help create a supportive school environment,” says Strat-Cortez. “We are excited to apply these tools at TA to build community, foster individual growth, and support positive outcomes for students.”
Like last year, Strat-Cortez and Lopez plan to pass on what they have learned through professional development opportunities for faculty and staff. “Our efforts to implement restorative practices align with TA’s commitment to antiracism and DEI,” said Strat-Cortez, “By using these tools in classrooms and discipline situations alike, we foster an environment where students can engage in meaningful relationship-building. Our aim is to empower students with the tools to communicate effectively, resolve conflicts constructively, and contribute positively to the school community. “