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Vision: Starling Collaborative works with schools, organizations and innovative thought partners to build communities of care, dignity and accountability where ALL members can thrive.


Starling Collaborative partners with schools and organizations to build communities where everyone can thrive. Using a holistic, relationship-based, restorative approach, Starling Collaborative provides a broad array of facilitation, professional development, support, and resources to foster desired transformation collaboratively. We model the changes communities seek in how we work as a team with those we serve. We center the wisdom, diversity, and experience of organizational leaders, educators, students, and community members so that all voices can contribute to a shared vision. 


In 2006,  Annie O'Shaughnessy founded Soul Flares, Inc a nonprofit offering community members opportunities to circle up around issues that mattered to them in Vermont and across the country. Over the years that followed, Annie developed her commitment to restorative practices, trauma-informed approaches and mindfulness in the classroom and as a consultant. In 2017, she began meeting with a colleague to envision how Soul Flares might shift its focus to schools. In this way, Soul Flares was reborn as Partners in Restorative Change Inc. in the middle of the pandemic, with the generous help of the Cotyledon Family Fund.  Our original vision was to develop uniform, research driven, best approaches in restorative practices—practices that wove together the interdependent strands of mindfulness, equity, trauma informed/resiliency practices, and social emotional learning. 

A year later, after this colleague had moved on to focus on her family, Lisa Bedinger, Camille Koosmann and Annie O'Shaughnessy committed to reimagining how they could best serve schools and organizations in becoming healthier, more equitable, restorative communities. Through their collaboration and research they discovered a shared:

  • Passion for developing systems change strategies that actually work and data-driven change that have tangible, positive impact for everyone in the school building or organization; 

  • Belief in the power of "change ideas" and continuous improvement cycles that arise from the people in the building who can witness, first hand, the impact of those ideas; 

  • Commitment to practice the restorative principles in how we operate together and as an organization;

  • Understanding that Equity, RP, SEL, Mindfulness, Trauma Informed are interconnected and interdependent approaches that are essential to the future of schooling;

  • Whole-hearted alignment with Emergent Strategies —strategies that develop over time as an organization balances its goals with changing circumstances. 


To round out our team we invited Jessica Villeneuve to join us knowing she shared our commitment and vision for this work as well as deep experience as a tutor, teacher and administrator. In addition we established or deepened connections with our educator and consultant partners in the interesected fields.


Our vision for change arises out of "street data", “emergent strategy” and "cycles of inquiry". For us, grounding our approaches in existing peer-reviewed research is a starting point. In order to really facilitate change we needed a flexible, collaborative approach that taps the gifts, knowledge and motivation of the very people the change will impact. Each of us on the team has years of experience working with schools in this way and have come to understand it as "Improvement science."  


We chose to change the name to Starling Collaborative in 2022 to represent the strength found in interdependence, in pivoting, flowing and moving together through all kinds of challenges. For us, the starling represents the strength and beauty found in coordinated numbers, the flexibility needed to adapt to changes, and the resilience needed to travel far. We also changed the name to allow for this work of building vital learning and working communities to not be constrained by the current field of Restorative Practices but to attend to the vast range of factors that contribute to the health of any community: wellness, healing, equity, mindful awareness, play, and social emotional health.


To realize our vision, we needed a very strong Board of Directors and it took very little time to come up with three exemplary people to help steer us on our way.

Core Beliefs

Our approach...

  • Examines all work through the distinct but interconnected lenses of anti-racism, equity, trauma-informed practices, mindfulness and social emotional learning.

  • Disrupts the "breathless quality" of school culture where productivity can often prevail over wellness and equity by applying the Balance in the Process to everything we do.

  • Uses data to inform decision making, professional learning, and measure implementation fidelity and impact. 

  • Integrates restorative implementation with your existing initiatives and programs to strengthen staff buy-in, engagement and sustainability of the work.

  • Centers student voice to inform district and school plans for building and sustaining restorative culture and climate and identifying the needs and aspirations of our youth.

  • Creates robust structures and/or revises existing ones to hold the work in sustainable and equitable ways, i.e. teams, procedures, communications, processes, pedagogy


The Starling Collaborative rose up out of a shared passion for creating spaces for leading, learning and working where everyone feels seen and heard, is treated with dignity and contributes meaningfully to shared goals.  

Our work is based on the understanding that if we all experience safety, belonging, voice and respect we can thrive as learners, employees and leaders and help others to thrive as well. This belief informs everything we do, from assessing your strengths and listening to your unique needs, to building the capacity within your organization to thrive without our support. 

Our team approach leverages improvement science and the power of "street data" to motivate change from the ground up. We weave the interdependent strands of restorative practices, equity, trauma-informed, mindfulness and social emotional well being to build culture that is life-giving not life-draining. We use a holistic restorative approach to support the shift from deficit- to strengths-based thinking and from a punitive to a restorative mindset. 

For more about our services visit here.


The work of the Starling Collaborative will reflect the depth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience of those doing great work in the field of restorative practices in schools and organizations. We build collaboration through many approaches:

  • With permission, we field test materials and approaches developed by teachers and consultants and use cycles of inquiry to improve their effectiveness and alignment with trauma-informed, equity centered and restorative principles.

  • We inform our practices through active collaboration with the educators who are going through Saint Michael's College Holistic Restorative Education Certificate Program and the Restorative Pedagogy Network.

  • We work with the Vermont Restorative Approaches Collaborative ( and its members in state funded initiatives and other forms of collaboration .

  • We invest in professional learning for all of our staff

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