Although schools across the country have closed their buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic, educators have not stopped teaching our children. And as they have transitioned to various distanced forms of instruction, so too has the fifth annual Restorative Justice in Education (RJE) Conference at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) pivoted to an online format.
The event will be held June 23 and 24 via video conference. In past years, the annual gathering has drawn participants from several states and 11 Virginia school districts coming together to learn about applying the value and concepts of restorative justice, including dignity, respect, and mutual concern, in their classrooms and divisions.
This year’s keynote speaker, Anita Wadhwa, will open the conference with a talk on a youth-led model of apprenticing others in restorative justice in schools. Apprentices, she explains, range from the students themselves to families and teachers.
Wadhwa hails from Houston, Texas, and is a teacher and restorative justice coordinator at YES Prep Northbrook HIgh School. She wrote Restorative Justice in Urban Schools: Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline (Routledge, 2017), which Psychology Today lauded as “an essential book for anyone who wants to do restorative work in urban communities.”
She also co-founded the program Restorative Empowerment for Youth, which employs youth to train Houston organizations in restorative justice practices. Wadhwa earned an EdD in restorative justice at Harvard University.
The conference sessions include offerings for newcomers as well as veterans of the field. Topics include implementing trauma-informed restorative practices, building resilience for systemic racism, and peacebuilding in the classroom.
Registration is available online, and costs $100 per participant.