Retired Salida Middle School teacher Pam Smith will be filling in as interim director of Full Circle Restorative Justice from now through March while Patty LaTaille, the program director, is studying conflict resolution at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
LaTaille was selected as a 2015 Rotary Peace Fellow, giving her the opportunity to attend the fellowship for three months at the Rotary Peace Center at the university.
The fellowship is offered to 50 people worldwide every year. “It’s an honor to be selected, to have the opportunity to study with such a diverse group of individuals,” said LaTaille. She’s already been in contact with participants from Kenya, Mexico and the Netherlands.
As interim director, Smith will take over LaTaille’s role of coordinating victim-offender circles and helping youth who have active cases with Full Circle complete their contractual agreements.
Smith said she’s been working as a volunteer with Full Circle for about two years. She’s trained to be a volunteer victim-offender conferencing facilitator.
Training through Phoenix Strategies in Colorado Springs, Smith recently completed training in mediation, which she may use in disputes relating to small claims or child custody.
At SMS, Smith taught technology and was the Gifted and Talented program director for three years.
She said that as a teacher she had lots of training in conflict resolution, mentoring and non-violent communication.
Last spring, she and LaTaille put on a program for seventh and eighth graders, walking them through the restorative justice process.
Smith said she began volunteering with Full Circle after seeing so many of her students make poor choices which could result in more serious legal consequences than the students realized.
Smith believes restorative justice is a more “logical response for those minors.” She added, “It gives them a chance to grow as human beings, rather than just being punished.”
When LaTaille returns from Bangkok, Smith will resume her volunteer work as well as starting her own mediation service, Peak Solutions Mediation.