Evergreen Park School District 124 welcomed Restorative Justice expert Dr. Robert Spicer on Aug. 26 to speak to staff members in preparation for the start of the 2019-2020 school year.
Spicer is a sought-after motivational speaker on Restorative Practices. He has been featured on major news networks such as CNN, National Public Radio, WTTW, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Associated Press. He has received recognition for his work from numerous organizations and was invited to speak at the White House at a convening on school discipline called “Rethink Discipline.”
D124 Superintendent Dr. Robert Machak said he and his staff were excited to learn more about Restorative Justice from an expert in the field.
“From conversations I’ve had with District parents and staff since last spring on this issue, it’s clear that we do not yet as a District have a firm grasp on what restorative practices are and what they are not,” Machak said. “I am excited about Dr. Spicer’s visit; his workshop will be the first in an ongoing series of dialogues throughout the year with our teachers, staff, parents, and students about the skills we all need to solve problems effectively and resolve issues when they arise.”
Spicer is the CEO of Restorative Strategies, a Chicago-based organization that provides training and technical support to a variety of stakeholders with a focus on eradicating the school to prison pipeline. He started his career in education as an elementary school teacher at Sojourner Truth Elementary in Chicago from 1995-2003 and managed a collaboration between the community and the Cook County States’ Attorney’s office to divert non-violent offenses to “Community Panel.”
Spicer later took a position as the Chief Dean of Discipline, Restorative Justice and Code Switching at the recently turned around Christian Fenger High School in Chicago in 2009. His role shifted to the Culture and Climate Coordinator in 2010 to meet the needs of this Chicago Public school.
D124 Director of Student Support Services Veda Newman said she expects the advice offered to the staff by Spicer will benefit the entire student body.
“Robert Spicer emphasizes the importance of developing and nurturing relationships with every student,” she said. “Restorative strategies equip school staff with tools to use with students within the Multi-tiered System of Support framework to assist students and teachers in reflecting, reconnecting, and restoring relationships.”