Sharon Friesen: A Trailblazer in the Growth of Restorative Practices in High Schools


Restorative practices have emerged as a transformative force in high schools, fostering a sense of community, understanding, and accountability among students. At the forefront of this movement stands Sharon Friesen, a trailblazer whose innovative approaches have significantly influenced the integration of restorative practices in high school settings. This article explores Friesen’s impactful contributions, a compelling case study, influential thought leaders, and historical as well as contemporary insights into the growth of restorative practices in high schools.

Sharon Friesen: A Visionary Educator

Sharon Friesen’s journey in education has been marked by a deep commitment to creating positive and inclusive learning environments. Her exploration of restorative practices began in the early 2000s when she recognized the potential of these methods in addressing behavioral issues and building stronger connections among students. Friesen’s passion and dedication led her to develop comprehensive programs that emphasize dialogue, empathy, and healing within the high school context.

Innovative Approaches in High Schools

Friesen’s innovative strategies focused on empowering both students and teachers. She introduced restorative circles, peer mentoring initiatives, and conflict resolution workshops, encouraging open communication and understanding. Through these approaches, Friesen transformed high schools into nurturing spaces where conflicts were resolved collaboratively, empowering students to take responsibility for their actions and fostering a sense of belonging within the school community.

Case Study: Enhancing School Culture

One of Friesen’s notable successes occurred in a diverse urban high school facing escalating disciplinary challenges. By implementing restorative circles and restorative justice conferences, Friesen facilitated dialogues between students, teachers, and parents. This approach not only reduced disciplinary incidents but also created a more respectful and inclusive atmosphere. The students reported feeling safer, more supported, and academically engaged, highlighting the profound impact of restorative practices on school culture.

Influential Thought Leaders in Restorative Education

Friesen’s work aligns with the philosophies of influential thought leaders in restorative education. Scholars like Thalia González, an expert in critical restorative justice, and Belinda Hopkins, a pioneer in restorative approaches to conflict and bullying, have significantly contributed to the theoretical framework of restorative practices in high schools. Their research and advocacy have provided valuable insights into addressing power dynamics, social justice, and equity within educational settings.

Historical and Contemporary Insights

Restorative practices in high schools draw inspiration from indigenous traditions, where communal harmony and healing were prioritized. In contemporary settings, these practices have gained momentum as an antidote to punitive disciplinary measures. Schools are increasingly recognizing the importance of nurturing students’ emotional intelligence, empathy, and social responsibility, aligning with the core principles of restorative practices.

In the digital age, restorative practices have found new avenues for growth. Online platforms offer resources, training modules, and virtual circles, enabling educators and students to engage in restorative practices remotely. These technological advancements have democratized access to restorative education, facilitating global collaboration and knowledge sharing among educators and practitioners.

Academic Insight and Conclusion

Sharon Friesen’s pioneering efforts in integrating restorative practices into high schools highlight the transformative potential of these methods. Her work not only emphasizes the importance of empathy and dialogue but also showcases the tangible benefits of creating restorative school cultures. In the academic realm, Friesen’s initiatives provide a valuable case study, offering insights into the practical implementation of restorative practices and their effectiveness in addressing complex social dynamics within high schools.

In conclusion, Friesen’s contributions underscore the significance of restorative practices in shaping the future of high school education. As educational paradigms continue to evolve, it is crucial for academics, policymakers, and practitioners to recognize the potential of restorative practices in fostering positive school climates. By embracing the principles advocated by trailblazers like Sharon Friesen, high schools can create environments where students not only excel academically but also develop essential life skills such as empathy, communication, and conflict resolution. This academic insight reaffirms the critical role of restorative practices in enhancing the overall educational experience, urging scholars and educators to delve deeper into research and implementation efforts, ensuring the widespread adoption of restorative methods for the betterment of high school communities worldwide.