Staff receive a Peace Builders Award.

The Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center (WDRC) honored Bellingham Public Schools and three students at the 13th Annual Peace Builder Awards Gala in November 2015. The event celebrates recipients for their collaboration, creativity and effort towards reducing conflict and strengthening our community.

According to the WDRC event press release, the gala serves two purposes. “It is both a means to recognize individuals, groups, and organizations that have actively and thoughtfully contributed to creating a more peaceful community, and it serves as the primary fundraiser for the WDRC to advance its mission of providing and promoting constructive and collaborative approaches to conflict through mediation, training, facilitation and community education.”

Bellingham Public Schools was honored with the Education Award for their work around restorative justice with students. This work, led by director of teaching and learning Steve Morse, helps students learn skills to resolve conflict productively, thereby reducing out of school suspensions, and incorporating restorative practices into their discipline model.

Cordata Elementary School dean of students Sharece Steinkamp stated the magnitude of this change in her Education Award nomination for the district. “Rather than pushing away our most fragile students, we are bringing them in closer and wrapping layers of support and love around them. This change of approach is resulting in happier, healthier and more successful students.”

Shuksan Middle School student Mehar Singh received the Youth Award for her coordination, leadership and community-building at the recent Shuksan Middle School TedX event which highlighted youth changing the world.

Alongside the dinner and auction, two students in Bellingham Public Schools shared their poems in the Peaceful Poetry Youth Contest. Wade King Elementary student Ella Thompson shared her poem Elise’s Quest and Squalicum High student Thu Ton shared her poem The Lost Years.

To view the videos, click here for the Education Award and here for the Youth Award.


  1. I am so very pleased that the School district is embracing and practicing restorative justice, and actively supporting the whole child and every child.

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