Mary Skillings, M.Ed.
Owner / Manager of CRC Consulting Services
Long an advocate for healthy learning environments, Mary provides the kind of training to educators that brings them face to face with what it really takes to create a healthy, safe, thriving school culture where kids can learn and people can grow. Although Mary’s workshops and other services are fully grounded in the philosophy of Restorative Practices, Mary demonstrates how other effective programs such as those stemming from Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), Values Based Education (VbE), Mindfulness Programs and others are really all cut from the same cloth.
“It’s about getting our priorities straight. How we treat one another matters. Feeling that we belong, feeling safe, feeling respected, without this our brain is not capable of relaxing into a true learning state. Relationships and a physically and emotionally safe environment come first. After that comes the learning, the academics.”
Though her primary focus is now on schools, Mary actually began her work in Restorative Practices in the criminal justice system in the mid 1990’s. Deeply committed to making an actual difference and wanting to help people to change their behavior from the inside out, Mary designed and implemented a number of programs for juvenile offenders, as well as victims of crime.
In 2005 Mary began working for the organization Men as Peacemakers in Duluth, Minnesota as their Restorative Practice Program Coordinator. While still providing services to the Juvenile Justice system, Mary began to do more and more work with schools. In 2007 she designed and taught Teaching from a Restorative Paradigm—a graduate level course for educators offered in collaboration through the University of Minnesota/Duluth. She taught this course for three years, and her current Professional Development Seminar is based on that original program.
Mary has presented at several conferences including the Minnesota Association for Alternative Programs and the Safe and Healthy Learners Conference. She has co-facilitated the workshop, Using Circles to Teach at the Minnesota Department of Education’s annual June Seminar, Restorative Practices in Schools.
Over the years, Mary has also provided Conflict Resolution services based on Restorative Justice principles to a number of community service organizations and schools.
A native Minnesotan, Mary currently lives in her favorite area of the state—the North Shore of Lake Superior. She loves the Lake, the north woods, and all the wonderful things people do there from kayaking to camping and long rambles on the Superior Hiking Trail. Winters don’t bother her—“That’s when you get to curl up by the fire with a good book!”
“Schools are where we train ourselves and our future citizens. It’s where we can establish expectations for what we want out of life. If a young person enters adulthood having only known a testing driven, score driven, competitive school environment, well, that’s all they’ve known so what can we expect them to create in terms of their own communities, their own relationships, their own places of business? If they’ve known something else then they’ll strive to create something else. It’s important that they know what beauty is and what love is – while they’re kids!”