Blake Wood
Publish Date

The University of Illinois Springfield School of Education is partnering with Springfield Schools District 186 to establish the UIS Restorative Schools Network. This initiative will involve nine schools, focusing on improving school environments through restorative practices, which emphasize building relationships and resolving conflicts within the school community.

Restorative practices emphasize shifting from “power over” leadership models to a collaborative “working with” approach, combining high expectations with necessary support. Restorative practices ensure a fair process, allowing everyone the chance to speak and listen, fostering empathy and understanding.

“We are thrilled to partner with UIS to bring a renewed focus on the use of restorative practices in our schools as we support students in their growth both academically and emotionally,” said Jennifer Gill, superintendent of Springfield Schools District 186. “We are committed to improving our practices and our school climates, and we look forward to being able to model restorative practices for the UIS rising educators in the School of Education.”

District administrators, along with UIS faculty and staff, will attend three days of training this summer. Teachers and staff will receive two days of training and an additional two days in the fall. Throughout the school year, UIS faculty will provide ongoing coaching to support the implementation and refinement of these practices.

“Research shows that schools implementing restorative practices experience a transformation in school climate,” said Beth Hatt, director of the UIS School of Education. “They see fewer suspensions, expulsions, conflicts and misbehaviors such as bullying. Ultimately, restorative practices provide a trauma-informed, healing-centered approach that benefits children and adults alike.”

The UIS School of Education aims to be the first educator preparation program in the country to guarantee that all undergraduate and graduate students receive training in restorative practices.

“This partnership exemplifies our commitment to community engagement and educational innovation,” said UIS Chancellor Janet L. Gooch. “By working closely with District 186, we are not only enhancing the educational experience for students but also preparing our future educators to create inclusive and supportive learning environments.”

The UIS Restorative Schools Network is supported through UIS strategic investment funds. Hatt plans to expand the network in the future to include additional school districts in the area.

“Participating schools will become model restorative practices schools and classrooms — places where UIS future educators can observe and learn about their implementation and a source of learning for schools and districts nationwide,” Hatt said.

As a part of the program, climate, discipline, achievement and attendance data will be collected to measure impact. For more information on the degrees and programs offered, visit the UIS School of Education website.