Restorative Justice at EMS

Using restorative practices is part of our peacebuilding culture school wide. These practices involve creating space for people to listen fully. Sometimes that is a conversation between two or more students, facilitated by a teacher, counselor, or principal. All parties involved agree to the process before starting.

In larger groups, a circle process provides the opportunity for everyone to speak and listen. The speaker holds a “talking piece,” such as a stone or a ball, and passes it to the next person when they are done. There’s always the option to pass.

The elementary division of EMS was founded in 2005 with an RJ lens woven into the fabric of this new school. That mindset has gained momentum in our school, spreading into the “DNA” of our middle and high school.

Currently, restorative practices are also gaining momentum not only at EMS, but in schools nationwide.

"This time-consuming work is not easy. But each day I see our teachers and principals taking time to model and teach Christ-like ways of addressing hurt between students and others. These lessons help us fulfill our mission to call students to faith in Jesus Christ and pursue compassionate service in the world."

Paul Leaman
Head of School

Paul Leaman, head of school

In this video, third grade teacher Heidi Byler shares about restorative justice at Eastern Mennonite Elementary School. She is part of a group of teachers who are taking part in graduate level studies about using restorative justice in educational settings.