The center provides an alternative to traditional suspension for Lynchburg City Schools. The new RCS is for middle and high school students. How it works, is instead of students serving their out-of-school suspension at home, they will attend RCS.
This is for any student who needs to serve a short-term, one to ten-day suspension.
At the center, students will take part in all-day programming. This includes completing class work, along with working to improve their behavior. During suspension, teachers work with students one-on-one and in small groups to help them reflect on their behavior and create a plan of action.
Dr. Derrick Brown, the Director of Student Services, says, “We definitely saw that there was a need because we want to be about changing behavior. We don’t want to just punish students. A lot of times when you have a suspension, students go home or into the community and they don’t necessarily learn the lessons that they need to learn. So this is a really intentional way that we are able to focus on and try to modify student behavior and change it so that they can be successful in the classroom.”
Part of being at the suspension center includes not having access to your cell phone. When students arrive, a faculty member takes their phone and locks it in a storage cabinet.
The new center is possible because of a partnership with local mental and behavioral health organization, Life Push. They help facilitate 60 to 90-minute small group behavior sessions to help students learn from their mistakes.
“They come up with a restorative plan for when they go back to school. So, if they need to apologize to a teacher or a peer or a principal, they have already thought through how that apology will go. They set goals for themselves and not just goals, but plans to accomplish those goals when they go back to school,” says Brown.
RCS has been open for about a week and Dr. Brown says students have said how helpful this is for them.
As far as future plans, they hope to open the center to elementary students as well. Dr. Brown says they also want to open a restorative academy. This would include a longer program, six to nine weeks, that would focus on helping students build skills for the future.