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Mental Health - Trauma

Invitation to Participate in Trauma-Sensitive Schools Project

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is inviting applications from schools to join the department’s Trauma-Sensitive Schools Project for the 20018-2019 school year. This multi-year project focuses first on universal, school-wide practices (Tier 1), followed by strategies for students who need additional supports or intensive interventions (Tiers 2/3). The change effort within each school is led by a school-based team facilitated by an internal coach and supported by an external coach and the DPI. Participating schools learn to analyze and incorporate trauma-sensitive practices over a two- to three-year period.

Participating teams consist of no more than eight (8) team members, including an administrator. Each team will select up to two (2) individuals to serve as the internal coach for the project. Teams will complete professional development delivered via in-person meetings, on-demand learning modules, and assigned readings. Each team will establish an action plan related to trauma-sensitive schools. Teams will be organized into geographic regions. Internal coaches from participating schools will meet minimally three times a year to support implementation in their school buildings. These meetings will focus on sharing successful strategies, problem solving through challenges, and incorporating new learning. Entire teams will meet minimally once a year to develop action plans, acquire new learning, and network with other schools.

Professional development is delivered primarily through on-demand learning modules, including an online training, assigned readings, and one or more implementation tools to help school teams bring the new learning into their respective schools. These learning modules can be found on the Trauma-Sensitive Schools Learning Modules webpage. It is highly recommended that teams review TSS Module 1, Getting Started prior to submitting an application.

The kick-off event for new school teams is scheduled for August 16, 2018, at the Kalahari Resort in Wisconsin Dells, following the annual Wisconsin PBIS Conference. Each school may be required to contribute a monetary fee each year of the three-year project period. This funding helps to support the level of training and technical assistance provided through this approach. The actual amount will be determined once the funding referenced above is allocated, but will not exceed $1,000 per school per year.

Interested parties can apply by completing the DPI Trauma Sensitive Schools Project Application. The application is due no later than 4:00 p.m. on Friday, May 4, 2018. Applications submitted after this time will not be accepted.

Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools to Improve Learning

Professional educators know that many students face challenges in their personal lives that adversely affect their learning in school. Unfortunately, many children have been traumatized by directly or vicariously experiencing violence, homelessness, loss (or fear of loss) of loved ones, or other kinds of devastating experiences.

Trauma changes people. Just as a physical assault on the body can cause bodily impairment, psychological trauma can result in a mental injury that impacts such things as a child’s ability to regulate emotions, attend to classroom activities, and/or achieve normal developmental milestones. However, this does not mean that traumatized children and adolescents cannot grow up to be healthy and happy adults, despite the often substantial obstacles they face.

There are ways to make our schools more sensitive to these children’s needs. The school and the classroom can become a “sanctuary” for these children, a place to experience academic success and social acceptance. Through these changes, schools can support all children in the development of healthy coping strategies and resilience in facing future struggles.

Some school districts are using a Response to Intervention (RtI) model to successfully support students with a wide range of behavioral and emotional issues. Schools can build on these efforts by providing universal strategies (Tier 1), supplemental supports (Tier 2) and intensive interventions (Tier 3) that will emphasize children’s strengths and address the educational needs of students who have been affected by trauma.

Trauma-Sensitive Schools Learning Modules

The Department of Public Instruction is creating a new professional development initiative to help schools incorporate trauma-sensitive practices in collaboration with SaintA and Trauma Sensitive Education, LLC. Content will be delivered primarily through modules that each consist of on-line learning, associated readings, and implementation tools. These modules will be created over a three-year period.

PBIS framework

Below are links to a variety of resources to help schools support students affected by trauma. The information you find here can serve as a starting point in understanding the intersection of trauma and education.

For questions about this information, contact Elizabeth Cook (608) 266-1999