St. Mary’s School was featured in an article in The Belleville Messenger on January 27th, 2017. Click here to read the article.
The essence of Christian discipline is formation in virtue. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.” (CCC 1803)
The purpose of VBRD is twofold:
- Increase faith practices
- Reduce/prevent anti-social behavior
This school-wide initiative includes these components:
- Staff, parent and student spiritual formation in practical application of virtue,
defined with students as: Holy habits that imitate God.
- Training in restorative practices, which hold relationships as the highest priority, assuring high responsibility and high accountability for repairing harm to relationships and property when such harm occurs.
When harm occurs, Restorative Discipline seeks to do the following:
- What happened: Establish the injustice, or harm that occurred
- What needs to be done: Restore equity, repair harm to property and restore relationships Establish appropriate future intentions (How can we guarantee a better future?)
- What can be expected: Establish appropriate future intentions
VBRD™ Guiding Principles
- We will dedicate ourselves to living virtue.
- Catholic virtues will be taught from Scripture and Catechism, and we will prayerfully discern which virtues to work on as a school community each year.
- We will support others in living virtue.
- We will share what we learn freely with others and offer encouragement by acknowledging the good.
- We will commit to constructive thoughts, words and deeds.
- We will refrain from gossip, rumors, criticizing and judgment, as these attempt to detract from the good name we are given by God.
- We will train our thoughts to be kind, be prudent in our speech, and temperate in our actions so as to achieve personal holiness within the community.
- When faced with challenges or conflict, we will find solutions that cultivate virtue for ourselves and for one another.
- As we prayerfully attend to conflict, we will uphold the human dignity assigned by God in dealing with one another. Virtues will be expressed and practiced in identifying the injustice, restoring equity, and working to reach common agreements that promote peace and restore harmony.
As a key strategy for setting norms for the school culture, both adults and students will participate in conversation circles. Classroom circles/meetings also offer a platform for virtue education, discussing classroom behavior, building community, and strengthening interpersonal skills as a way to prevent and reduce harmful interactions. Parents are also given resources and encouraged to provide this opportunity at home.
Response to Harm
Restorative Discipline strategies provide a framework for collaboration in setting norms and expectations founded on the belief that “Human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.” (International Institute for Restorative Practices, http://www.iirp.edu/what-is-restorative-practices.php).
When harm occurs, parents will be informed. With mid/high level incidents, parent involvement in formal restorative conference may be required to determine what can be done to repair harm and restore relationships. Formation and service are integrated into restorative discipline as much as possible.
Use with Low-Level, or first-time incidents
- This is less formal for minor disruptions, and is free from harsh judgment or criticism, and can easily redirect behavior such as, but not limited to, name-calling, unintentional harm that is not repetitive.
- When simple statements have not stopped the behavior, or there is a new, more escalated behavior, students will be asked to explain their behavior, and redirect their actions to reflect positive interactions.
Use with Mid-Level incidents, or repeated minor disruptions
- Students and adults together will seek understanding of the cause for disruption or harm, and will work together with those involved to restore relationships.
This may involve parents of those harmed and/or those responsible for the harm.
Use with High-Level incidents where there is serious harm
- When student behavior requires a teacher or other adult to stop and address harm immediately, examples include but are not limited to, physical harm, repeated obscenities, name-calling, or repeated refusal to comply with expected behavior. Parents of all involved parties will meet to establish what harm has been done, who is responsible, and how it will be repaired.
- Follow-up conferences can assure safety has been restored for all parties.
There may be times when harm to students, staff, and the parent community is significant, and restoration is not possible. Such cases require special attention, and solutions may require time away from the school community. In serious cases, we will follow the Archdiocesan Handbook on Violence Policy (Section 4303.3) before VBRD practices are begun.
- The student may be sent home to prevent further harm.
- The police may be called.
- The student may be required to meet with a counselor and acceptable assurances given from the counselor to the principal that the child is not a danger to other members of the school community before the child may reenter school.
- A satisfactory Formal Conference must be held with parents, administrators and students, outlining the harm done and mutual agreement on the specific actions that will be taken to repair the harm.
- A probationary period may be required before a child may return to school.
- Student(s) may be asked to withdraw for cause.