For students who have faced trauma, the classroom can be an intensely stressful and even alienating place. According to Neena McConnico, Director of Boston Medical Center’s Child Witness to Violence Project, one in four students has personally witnessed or experienced a traumatic event. That statistic is even higher for students who live in an impoverished setting. The impact of the trauma can manifest itself in many ways, and as McConnico states, “Young children exposed to more than five adverse experiences in the first three years of life face a 75 percent likelihood of having one or more delays in language, emotional, or brain development.” There are, however, many steps teachers and administrators can take to ameliorate problems associated with students who have faced trauma.
A promising example can be seen in Belden Elementary School in Canton, which took on Barbara Oehlberg as a consultant for “Growing the Brain” project, a program that trained teachers to become trauma informed. With 21 hours of training, the goal of the workshop was to “increase student self-regulation, stress management, empathy through sensory activities that fit into core curriculum subjects.” In 2011, the school was ranked by the Ohio Department of Education as being in “continuous improvement” up from the Academic Watch, where it had been since rankings started.
Join the City Club for a panel discussion on how to address student trauma, featuring several teachers who have successfully dealt with the issue and moderated by Mittie Davis Jones, Ph.D., associate professor at Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs.
Mallory Floyd, Principal of Belden Elementary School, Canton City School District, during the “Grow the Brain” project
Meryl Johnson, Retired Middle and High School Teacher, Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Barbara Oehlberg, Education & Child Trauma Consultant, Author
Jonathan Shaw, Kindergarten Teacher at Belden Elementary School, Canton City School District, during the “Grow the Brain” project