BELLOWS FALLS — The Windham Northeast Supervisory Union will hold a community outreach event to promote its Restorative Practices initiative, on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. at Bellows Falls Union High School.
WNESU is midway through the first year of this multi-year initiative which combines the proactive community-building efforts with restorative justice - a theory of justice that focuses on mediation and agreement rather than punishment. The initiative is based on respect, responsibility, relationship-building, and relationship-repairing.
The underlying premise of Restorative Practices is that people are happier, more cooperative, more productive and more likely to make positive changes when those in positions of authority do things with them rather than to them or for them. This also includes understanding situations that cause harm to others and how to repair the broken relationships after harm. Systems are in place that bring all parties of a negative incident into an inclusive process which includes responsibility taking, listening, feeling the impact of their actions, determining what needs to happen to make things as right as possible, and following through with the agreed-upon follow up steps.
All teachers, para-educators, and support staff have received the introduction training to restorative practices. The first-year plan has been to strengthen and organize the great community-building practices already taking place within each school in the district. This effort will help align universal harm and repair tactics used in future school years related to challenging behaviors. This will allow students to spend more time focused on learning and spend less time out of the classroom for reasons such as discipline.
Restorative practices combine other popular school initiatives such as Social-Emotional Learning, Trauma-Informed practices, and Responsive Classroom into one district-wide framework.
The Jan. 29 parent/family engagement event will also include parent educational opportunities related to teen substance abuse and vaping.