FLINT TWP. — Carman-Ainsworth board president Gloria Nealy said a recent training she attended brought to mind that old Righteous Brothers song, “You’ve lost that loving feeling.”
To get it back, Nealy was among a majority of C-A school administrators and staff who attended “Restorative Practices,’’ a two-day training designed to help leaders help troubled students rebuild relationships.
“It was a really good workshop,” Nealy said of the 13-hours training for which participants received certification.
School does not officially restart until Tuesday but a majority of Carman- Ainsworth teachers and administrators spent a lot of their free time this month attending educational workshops designed to go beyond teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.
About 70 employees -including the superintendent, both assistant superintendents, various school administrators, dozen of teachers and support staff – attended the Restorative Practices training in early August, said Eddie Kindle, the newly hired assistant superintendent of instruction and human resources.
Restorative Practices is a problem-solving strategy aimed at bringing all affected parties together – whether teacher vs. student or student vs. student – to repair the relationship.
Part of it involves setting up a restorative conference to discuss what happened and to engage those involved in reaching reconciliation.
“This is another attempt to meet the needs of students with severe behavior issues,’’ Kindle said. “I am most pleased (that) the Carman-Ainsworth as a school district does not believe in throwing kids away.”
In summary, Restorative Practices is about restoring relationships, said Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff. If student hurts another student, they still may get expelled but imposing traditional penalties for bad behavior does not repair relationships, he said.
“We can’t keep kids out forever. If a kid is disrespectful to an adult, kicking them out of class does not restore the relationship. Kids need to be back in class and learning.”
Restorative Practices is an additional tool not a deviation from traditional disciplinary strategies. It recognizes that the traditional approach does effect long-term results, Tunnicliff said.
Restorative Practices is a tried and true international program implemented years ago and used by many districts, he said.
“This is not something created a couple of years ago an we decided to jump on board,”
He added that the certified trainer for the program said he had never before seen such a high level of commitment from a school district – more than 70 people volunteer for unpaid training.
About 30 staff members, including all administrators, also voluntarily participated in Cultural Proficiency training. Also a two-day training, it focused on learning tools to better adapt to the district’s changing demographics, Tunnicliff said. C-A has one of the most diverse student populations in Genesee County.
Other training held this month centered on upgrading teacher and administrator evaluations.
“It has been a tremendously busy August already for our administrators,’’ Tunnicliff said. “I am very proud of them and the fact that they recognize that if we are going to get better, it has to start with our leadership. We have to show that we are not about just maintaining (the status quo). If we expect different results we had to do different things.”