The Bible is filled with stories of transgressions and a Creator who longs to give opportunities to restore what has gone wrong. As such, I believe that God has called me into my corner of the world to help restore the brokenness that we encounter daily in the lives of staff, students, and parents at Fraser Valley Christian High School.
I began the journey with restorative practices about twelve years ago when Ed Boelens, assistant principal at the time, and Kathy VanAndel, counsellor, shared the principles of real justice in a workshop with our staff at Fraser Valley Christian High School (now known as Surrey Christian School). They followed up the workshop with a role-play that allowed us to walk through the process of a formal restorative practices conference.
A couple of years later, theory turned into reality when I had an opportunity to participate in a formal conference with real students, real parents, real administrators, and real issues. In my first year as an assistant principal at Fraser Valley Christian High, I was thrown into the fire with a drug incident that would forever not only change the lives of the students involved, but also my life. According to school policy, one of the students should have been expelled on the spot, and the other student should have received a lengthy fifteen-day suspension. Initial interviews with the students involved clearly indicated their brokenness and deep desire to be restored to the school. As administrators, we wrestled with the tension of following our handbook to the letter, which meant expulsion, and our convictions about what it means to live in community and to allow a path to restoration.
For this incident, we felt a strong urge to walk through the restorative practice formal conference. The conference involved fourteen people, including facilitators, who had in some way been affected by the incident.