Restorative Justice

The Gandhi Institute is currently serving in several Rochester City Schools (RCSD) as part of our School Climate Transformation Program which strives to create healthy school climates for students, teachers, administrators, and parents. Our work draws from Restorative Practices and stands in contrast to traditional punitive models that directly contribute to high rates of student suspension, increased security and police presence in schools, and a lack of accountability and repair when harm occurs. Our programming is customized around the needs of each school in which we work. We recognize that every community has its own set of assets and obstacles to confronting individual and systemic violence and facilitating environments where the story of each individual (including their emotional and educational growth) is valued. Our School Climate Transformation programming is underway at Monroe Middle and High Schools, Charles T Lunsford No. 19, and Enrico Fermi No. 17. Our programming comes in the form of  teaching Social Justice Classes and Push-ins, staffing Help Zones, and supporting school clubs during and after school.

Our goals are to:

  • Create climates of peace in each school
  • Collaborate to cause systematic change in buildings across the district
  • Support staff and students in social-emotional development and conflict transformation
  • Collect and analyze data in order to create and replicate best practices

Watch our Restorative Practices video below:

Help Zone Support

The Gandhi Institute partnered with Monroe, Wilson, Enrico Fermi No. 17, North West College Preparatory, and James P.B. Duffy No. 12 schools in initiating and staffing “Help Zone” rooms for the 2016-2017 academic school year. We are currently partners in staffing Help Zone spaces at Monroe Middle & High Schools, School 17, and School 19.

Help Zones are designed to reduce the achievement gap through key initiatives to minimize loss of instructional time and to provide effective social-emotional support.

The Help Zones are designed to triage the needs of students who may request the following support: handling a conflict or personal issue, seeing an adult in the building, classroom material and/or personal hygiene items, etc. This model helps create a supportive environment for both students and staff.

For more information about the Help Zone initiative, read this blog.

What students are thinking about...

2016-2017 Data

Below is the preliminary data report for the 2016-2017 academic school year at James Monroe High School. This data is from the 7/8 Grade Help Zone and this data set runs from September 2016-March 2017.

Diagram 1.0

Diagram 1.0 shows the total number of students served in the 7/8 Grade Help Zone by month. In total, the Help Zone supported 1,705 students during this 7-month report. There has been a significant decrease in the number of students seen since the beginning of the year. This data indicates the Help Zone has contributed to supporting one of the James Monroe High School initiatives to maximize class time. The Help Zone provides students with coping/calming strategies to be able to self-regulate and optimize learning time in the classroom.

We are excited to continue sharing our data as we finish the final quarter of the 2016-2017 academic school year – stay tuned!

Social Justice Classes for

Middle School Students

Our Help Zone staffing and Social Justice classes at Enrico Fermi No. 17 grew out of Kingian Nonviolence training’s students and staff attended with our partner, Jonathan Lewis. Additionally, we led daily nonviolence education programming at Northwest College Preparatory School with the majority of 7-8 grade students from 2014-2017.

Our curriculum has been crafted by Gandhi Institute nonviolence educators and incorporates many different nonviolence philosophies and techniques: mindfulness and meditation, Nonviolent Communication, Dr. King’s six principles of nonviolence, Civil Rights Movement history, Gandhi’s history and philosophy, and ideas from the Alternatives to Violence Project workshops.

We cover topics such as:

  • Understanding violence on the internal, interpersonal, and structural levels
  • Understanding nonviolence as both a philosophy and practice
  • Transforming a negative situation into a positive one
  • Preventing and responding to bullying
  • Creating healthy habits around self awareness, anger, and stress management.

We enhance this materially by drawing on icebreakers and games from The Yellow Book of Games and Energizers (Jayaraja and Tielemans, 2011), the Alternatives to Violence Project manuals (, and Teen Empowerment’s book Moving Beyond Icebreakers (Pollack and Fusoni, 2014).