Teaching Restorative Understanding between Students and Teachers.
Project TRUST is an established, strengths based, special education program with integrated counseling services for at-risk students dedicated to:
- Rekindling hope and skills in our students
- Modifying social skills and behavior to levels appropriate for success in returning to traditional academic settings or long term tenure within the Project Trust community
- Remediating educational gaps in students’ learning profiles
- Providing career and college exploration and planning, in consultation with the experienced program counselor
- Developing students into contributing and self-reliant citizens of our community
Our dedicated staff meet daily to plan, adapt and modify instruction for all learners based on each student’s unique academic, social and emotional needs. Additionally, our staff, who are trained in Restorative Practices, are committed to working with parents and other stakeholders to meet the opportunities and challenges that students face. The staff and students in Project TRUST take great pride in the program’s outstanding record of student achievement and completion of program objectives.
The academic program includes:
- Small class sizes that allow for frequent one-to-one student/teacher conferencing
- A combination of standards aligned individualized and small group instruction tailored to meet students’ graduation needs
- The ability to address different learning styles and ability levels
- Select electives that provide students an opportunity to explore areas of academic interest, investigate personal career choices, and conduct various self-assessments
- The presence of an experienced Licensed Clinical Social Worker, centrally located for students, allows for intensive individual sessions as well as weekly thematic community circles. Daily community circles provide an opportunity to build social capital and trust. In addition, the Project TRUST clinician offers group activities that focus on topics such as mindfulness, stress management and the development of self-advocacy skills.
The philosophy of Project TRUST is rooted in Restorative Practices. It is inherent within the program that each student is given every opportunity to mainstream and integrate into the regular classroom setting. Vocational programming and work study opportunities are major considerations for the student.
Project TRUST utilizes a Restorative Practices approach to reduce, curb and resolve conflict and challenging behavior. Restorative Practices emphasizes personal growth and change, balanced with structure and accountability. Students act as a micro-community of support for each other, and are not only accountable for their own behavior but are responsible for confronting the impact their behavior has had on others.
Advantages of Restorative Practices include:
- A safer and more caring environment
- A more community centric teaching and learning environment
- A reduction in interpersonal conflicts
- A greater sense of connectedness to the classroom and broader school community
- The reduction of disciplinary action
- Assisting students and families with recurring issues
- Improved communication between students, families and staff
- An opportunity for students to be active participants in the development of their school community. The expectations and values of the Project TRUST community are agreed upon by all community members at the beginning of each academic school year and revisited as new members join the Project TRUST program.
Additional information on Restorative Practices can be found at the website for the International Institute for Restorative Practices at www.iirp.org
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s words exemplify the philosophy of the Project TRUST Program:
What others need from us, on an ongoing basis, is to know that they are cared for, that their good deeds inspire gratitude, and that others love them. It’s that simple. And just because they hear such sentiments on Monday doesn’t mean that they won’t need to hear them again on Tuesday. This is the primary reason why words heal and inspire and must be repeated again and again.
As quoted from Hal Urban’s book Powerful Words, Positive Results
Testimonials from Project TRUST students:
I love this class because I can be myself and know that I have support and help from the teachers and my peers.
It’s quiet. Everyone is friendly. I can work at my own pace. There is a counselor’s office nearby. There is always a teacher here to help me. The work is presented in an easily accessible format.
Project TRUST is not only an opportunity to get ahead and find new ways to fix your problems and grades, it is also a lot like a family. I have learned a lot about who I am throughout my time here. Each person on the staff bends over backwards to make you feel 100% comfortable and to help you do your best. Becoming part of the PT family is probably one of the best things that has happened to me.
Restorative Practices helps me be my best self because it holds me accountable to my problems. The compass of shame helps the most because it makes it easy to find what I do when I am upset. It then helps start a conversation about how I can change that and help myself. The restorative questions also help because it gives a way for you to own up and fix your mistakes. The questions help lead to a conversation about how we can make changes.
For more information ,please contact Carol Webb, Ed.D.. Director of Special Services, at (908) 284-7249