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Supporting Academic Achievement

Staff Perspective Justin Watkins

Research shows that academic achievement is closely related to health outcomes throughout the life course. Working with the goal of reducing health inequities and improving health outcomes, we support academic achievement through implementation of restorative practices in our schools and across San Mateo County school districts.

Restorative practices help improve attendance and participation in schools. Regular attendance is critical to a student’s success. When students are not in school because of suspension or expulsion they are unable to learn and will fall further behind in school.  Restorative practices also works to build a healthy school culture by increasing students’ social capital, reducing the impact of crime, decreasing antisocial behavior, repairing harm and restoring relationships (IIRP). In classrooms where these practices are applied, students often have more time to learn and grow deeper connections with peers and educators.

In 2016 Get Healthy SMC funded San Mateo-Foster City School District to implement restorative practices in all four of their middle schools. Principals, teachers, school staff and students were very impressed with how restorative practices helped students to build more social capital and a sense of community with their peers. Building on the success observed in SMCFCSD, the San Mateo County Office of Education was selected for funding in the 2017 Get Healthy SMC grant cycle to lead restorative practices trainings for teachers throughout San Mateo County. These trainings will be offered to teachers and school staff that wish to implement restorative practices at their site. COE just held an in-depth 2-day training for teachers and administrators that was oversubscribed! There is clearly a lot of interest from the school community to understand and implement restorative practices.

In order to ensure that restorative practices are effectively rolled out in schools throughout the county Get Healthy SMC is working with the COE, and partnering with experts in the field to develop a strategic plan to guide this work over the next few years. We are surveying our schools to understand current RP related work underway, challenges and opportunities for implementation. Get Healthy SMC envisions a county where restorative practices become a regular practice in all schools and the need for suspension and expulsion becomes non-existent therefore allowing all students to thrive.