Through a generous grant from the Catholic Foundation of West Michigan and in collaboration with the Office of Prison and Jail Ministry within the Diocese of Grand Rapids, over 70 of our school leaders and teachers recently participated in a two-day training on restorative practices presented by All Belong Center for Inclusive Education. Restorative practices stem from restorative justice and equip school staff members with safe, inclusive, and effective tools to build community, manage conflict, and develop healthy relationships. These practices help to create intentional culture and a positive climate within our schools, and will remind our students and staff that we are inherently relational. Our faith tells us that we are created for others and who we are is revealed by our life in communion with them.
Restorative practices emphasize personal responsibility and accountability, justice, and actions that restore the individual to his or her community and, in doing so, promote individual and community flourishing. Principal Kate Beuschel from Divine Providence Academy commented, “These PD days were fabulous! We used restorative practices at the surface level last year, but all my staff will have been trained by the time school begins. Our focus is clear - 80% on building community and 20% on fixing/restoring.”
Holly Lake, principal of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School, echoes Kate’s sentiments saying, “In today’s world, listening and understanding is so important. Using restorative practices at IHM will help kids relate to one another and create a cohesive community.”
With additional training offered in March, we intend to have more than 120 trained staff members across all of our 31 Catholic schools. Join us in praying that these efforts take root and further enhance our school communities.