In a room filled with inspirational quotes, colorful rugs and unfamiliar faces at a Chicago school, 9 San Antonio principals talk about some of their most vulnerable moments – times they’ve been hurt and times they’ve hurt others. 

At first, the room is quiet. But as soon as one shares, the others find it easier to chime in. The words they use to describe their feelings in these situations are similar: hurt, angry, sad. 

The facilitator reminds them that if they, as adults, experience this very human experience so do their students. 

The 9 principals visited Sarah E. Goode on the South Side of Chicago as part of My Brother’s Keeper San Antonio (MBKSA) restorative justice pilot initiative to learn from Umoja Student Development Corporation, an organization that teaches adults knowledge and skills to improve student outcomes. Restorative justice is a key part of their strategies.

The restorative justice model provides space for students to repair harm they’ve caused – holding them accountable by involving everyone from teacher to the harmed individual in restoring the relationships. The San Antonio principals visited Sarah E. Goode’s Peace Room and had a question and answer session with Umoja and school leadership teams. Together, they shared stories of successes and challenges they face and shared ideas on how to partner in the future.  

MBKSA currently has 9 pilot restorative justice initiatives in three school districts: Judson ISD, San Antonio ISD and Harlandale ISD.  

In June, these campuses committed to a 3-day restorative justice training and monthly sessions called Rethinking Discipline Community of Practice, which are facilitated by UTSA. This cross-sector strategy has connected national and local non-profits, school districts, and higher education institutions around a common goal: increasing post secondary attainment by ending exclusionary discipline and building whole-school restorative justice communities.