Summer 2022


Capstone Project

Degree Name



Abigail Rombalski and Shelley Orr

Content Expert

Joanna Traver


The need for systemic change has never been stronger. Schools are at a breaking point. In the wake of the uncertainties of COVID and the injustice seen in the racial uprisings after the police murder of George Floyd of 2020, students are dealing with trauma that needs to be addressed in schools. The practices of restorative justice, when applied with a cultural shift within the schools, are powerful ways to support students in their healing (Morgan, 2021). Studies find that when students are at the center of creating a restorative system, it is more effective because it directly reflects the needs of those students (Darling, 2019). The research question for this project is: How can student-written lessons establish a culture of Critical Ethnic Studies and Restorative Justice in a middle and high school? This capstone explores how restorative justice practices are best integrated into a small urban secondary school, grades 6-12. The project explores how to create a curriculum that prepares students to take on leadership roles in that shift as activists and artists within a Critical Ethnic Studies class. The curriculum overview uses the Understanding by Design planning method (Wiggins and McTighe,1998), and includes two major units: The first unit uses Arts Literacy performance cycle (Landay and Wooton, 2012) and Theater for Social Change (Boal, 1985; Madell and Wolf, 2003; Rhod, 1998) as models of how to build community, develop safe space, and share about identity through the arts. In the second unit, students will examine a model activism unit in which they take the lead on sharing Restorative Practices (Boyes-Watson and Pranis, 2015) within the school by designing their own Social Emotional Learning lessons to teach to other students (Berger, Vilen, & Woodfin, 2000). Finally, students will then use the knowledge they gain in CES to create activism projects to make change in their own school community. The goal of the project is to promote student leadership in shifting schools towards a more just and equitable environment, and to embed restorative practices into a CES classroom itself.

Project Type



Art Education, Community Building, Curriculum, Social Justice








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