There is some discouragement afoot about whether the upcoming generations can rise to the needs and social requirements we have ahead.
I myself have fallen prey to this curmudgeonly outlook. However, my three visits to Mr. Gratten’s classes at North Country Junior High (Derby) certainly gave me lots of hope.
It was great fun to talk with 40 students about their thoughts on “Touching Spirit Bear” by award-winning novelist Ben Mickaelsen.
Our discussions were about the restorative approach to offenses, offenders, and victims.
We sat in a circle and talked about how traditional court and punishments are sometimes not enough or not appropriate. What we want is change, and healing of all involved.
I was blown away with the depth of their questions and thoughtfulness.
These students are serious learners, aware of what is going on in the world, and willing to consider new ideas. They are sensitive about the needs and experiences of others and they are kind. They understand accountability, too.
While a restorative approach in the schools is more common in other states, it is spreading in Vermont – the state that brought restorative justice to the U.S. through its Department of Corrections.
Hats off to Mr. Gratten and the wonderful students at North Country Junior High.
Barbara Morrow, Executive Director
Orleans County Restorative Justice Center