by Kristina Hulvershorn

We are all “The Peace People.”   I find myself saying that phrase more and more often.  As we learn and evolve as an organization, we strive to make the greatest impacts in the communities we serve.  In my world of restorative practices, we have learned the hard way that sometimes by being a good resource, we can actually do a disservice to our constituents. Let me explain.

When we first began implementing restorative practices, we were eager to gain experience leading circles.  This was beneficial to the people who were part of them, but also to us as learners.  As we became more skilled practitioners, our partners began to lean on us more and more.  This felt good because our work 1) was working and 2) was valued.  As time went on, though, we realized that we had also poured a lot of time and energy into training people to do this work in their own schools and organizations.  Our presence, though, made us the peace people, and they had a much harder time seeing that they too were totally capable of the very same feats of peacemaking.

We thought long and hard about how we can support schools and organizations. One way we did this was to look at the data that showed us which school and organizational partners were excelling in their implementation of restorative practices. There was an inverse relationship between those schools that used us as practitioners and the adoption of the mindset, tools, and strategies associated with restorative practices.  This meant that those schools who viewed themselves as practitioners were actually making bigger, broader impact.  We took this knowledge and started our own train-the-trainer model where we support school leaders in bringing these initiatives to their own schools.  We are thrilled to support and mentor these leaders and then watch the meaningful, beautiful work they do to create more peaceful, just, and restorative environments.

To learn more about the next round of Restorative Justice Train-the-Trainer beginning in January 2020 follow this link.