Virtual Restorative Practices Trainings Gather 100+ Attendees


This fall, we're excited to offer virtual Restorative Practices trainings to our community in partnership with renowned national leader Kerri Berkowitz. If you're not familiar, Restorative Practices focus on strengthening relationships between individuals and social connections within communities.They also emphasize the importance of restoring relationships when harm has occurred, a timely and ever-important element in relationship building for students, teachers, and school communities now more than ever. We acknowledge indigenous peoples from around the world for their wisdom, traditions, and practices, which provide the foundation for restorative practices.

Last fall, more than 65 participants gathered for the training in our conference room at United Way and this September, over 100 convened online together for both introductory and next level Proactive Circles training. Another round of trainings are slated to take place October 19 and 21. If you are interested in attending, please register here.


Feeling More Connected and Engaged in Community

After attending her second round of Restorative Practices trainings last fall, Asheville Middle School Counselor Karen Thompson shared that they began holding a community-building circle each morning. "The content is different every day, but the structure of the circle stays the same. So students respond to a circle prompt and then they go into a daily activity focusing on mindfulness, academic goals, character, education using social justice standards, and Community Friday which is focused on connecting with one another and how we can improve our school community. What I've noticed so far and the feedback that I've gotten is that students and staff feel more connected and students have taken a lot of ownership in their community," she said.


Restoring Safety and Community After Harm Has Occurred

Participants in the training range from local school staff (teachers, principals, counselors, and social workers) to community partners from A.B. Technical College, Access Family Services, Children First/Communities in Schools, Pisgah Legal, YMCA, YWCA, and more. "One of the benefits of being able to do it virtually is that we can have a lot more people participate online together than we could fit into our conference room at United Way," shares Kyle Garrett, School Partnerships Manager for United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. Five additional schools are joining this year's initial trainings, including our newest Community School A.C. Reynolds Middle. 

Many more are stepping into the next level of Restorative Practices training, which is focused on building restorative - rather than simply punitive- behavior responses into the school's systems and taking time to restore a sense of community and belonging for all after harm has occurred in the classroom or in the school. 


Shifting Systems Together...

"There are several layers to this. There is the training part, learning how to incorporate these practices into your own work in the classroom or after-school setting or in staff meetings. And then there is the next layer in how to shift systems in our schools and organizations to be able to implement these Restorative Practices on a school-wide or organizational level," shares Garrett.

Beyond the trainings, Berkowitz holds coaching calls with the schools to help them figure out what the next steps are in implementation, building community buy-in and working together with teachers and all school staff. And Garrett has organized a local Training of Trainers cohort alongside Berkowitz, which will guide school staff and community partners now versed in Restorative Practices in how to step into roles as facilitators and guides in our community.