Wed. Jan 26th, 2022

After years as a teacher in both younger grades and high school, Joanne was excited to embark on her first year as a principal. She felt that her experience in the classroom would really benefit her when she had to make difficult decisions. While she knew that her role was significantly different, she felt like being a principal would give her an opportunity to make a difference in a way that she was unable to as an educator. At least in the short-term, the superintendent and school board supported her. She would need that support because, as everybody knew, her philosophy on the way conflict should be handled was different than most people were familiar with and would be met with resistance by some.

Joanne was a believer is restorative justice education. She had taken classes on the topic and felt strongly that crime and punishment did not benefit anybody. She recognized that students could not feel so comfortable that they could get away with anything, but she felt strongly that there were times when confronting an issue and discussing it achieved a lot more than a suspension.

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It is taken for granted that if something happens in a school setting that is against the rules, an adult will gather evidence and decide what if any punishment should be assessed. After studying restorative justice education Joanne believed that a discussion of what took place and addressing why something happened is a lot more productive than punishment and waiting for the same issue to take place again.

It is typical that if one student punches another student, the principal will lecture the person that threw the punch and assign punishment. Joanne believes that something larger is going on. She wants to explore why a punch was thrown. This goes beyond the two people involved. Joanne wants to delve into the families of the two people, their peer groups, and everything that took place leading up to the punch. She wants to prompt conversations, even if they aren’t comfortable, and confront what happened so that it won’t take place again. Restorative justice education requires patience, time, and some cooperation from everyone involved. That cooperation is not easy to gain, but through perseverance, Joan thinks she can slowly create a friendlier and safer campus. She hopes that she can get over what surely will be a negative reaction the first time her punishment is not what parents expect it to be. Eventually, she hopes her practice spreads to other schools so that all students are properly taken care of.

By rahul