Restoring Community

Grad_School_Class_2013 Congratulations to the IIRP's 2013 graduating class!The sixth class of master’s degree recipients graduated Saturday, June 22, in a joyous ceremony, at the Hotel Bethlehem, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with their proud friends and family members cheering them on.

After IIRP president and founder Ted Wachtel presented the diplomas, the closing ceremony took place. In a tradition unique to the IIRP, instead of a commencement speaker, there was a brief demonstration of the restorative practice known as a circle. In a circle, each person is able to speak without interruption, allowing every voice to be heard. In this circle, nine graduates passed a “talking piece” (in this case, a microphone) and each one answered the question: “What is the most the significant thing to you about restorative practices?”

Here are just a few highlights of their responses:Ted_IIRP_2103_commencementIIRP President Ted Wachtel

Cheryl Reider, a parochial school teacher from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said that prior to the program she had found herself “avoiding students who were challenging, whose behaviors were out of control.” The IIRP, she said, “has given me the tools to treat my students with respect but also to help them make positive change.” Now, she said, “I see students really experiencing what it means to take responsibility for their actions, to contribute to their own education in new ways.”

Diane Edgecomb, a child-protection attorney, guardian ad litem and mediator from Saco, Maine, said she had learned at the IIRP that the children and adults she works with have difficulty forming relationships because of past abuses, and that restorative practices gives them a second chance to learn how to be relational. She added, “It’s important that we look at the whole person, and indeed, we give back some of that whole person to them. We work with them to do that, not for them, and not to them.”

Kim Vindler, a school counselor from Haverford, Pennsylvania, said she had learned strategies that help her to build and maintain healthier relationships in all areas of her life, making her “not only a restorative practitioner, but a better person and a more effective professional.” She concluded, “My goal now is to give back to others and give them the opportunity to learn about restorative practices. I hope to join them in changing the world.”

Twenty men and women earned their degrees:

Commencement_CircleGraduate Joyce Dawley speaks during the commencement circle

Master of Science in Restorative Practices and Youth Counseling: Elizabeth Ann Bertolet, Diane M. Edgecomb, Roberts E. Heiselmoyer, Lakeisha Atiya Horne, Karena Marie Malko, Sean Philip Plunkett, Naki Patricia Pratt, Cheryl Lynne Reider, Jason Michael Sauler, Dawn B. Schantz, Denise Marie Walsh, Sheila K. Weinhardt, and Ayane Yabui

Master of Science in Restorative Practices: Margaret Mary Murray, Jessica L Sine, and Michelle Jarrouj-Weaver