trauma

Supporting Students This Fall

When I reflect on what the school year might look like this fall, like all administrators I am filled with a certain amount of uncertainty maneuvering through the COVID-19 pandemic as well as our commitment to focus on equity and diversity. Most of us are spending our time this summer planning for the education of our students. While we make plans for the fall, we also need to be prepared for the trauma our kids have experienced, the behaviors we may encounter, the need for students to hear their voice and express themselves, and develop a plan to be able to respond to a new normal and the increasing needs of all of our students. (more…)

Leading Through Crisis

This fall, the Science Leadership Academy faced its biggest challenge in the 13-year history of the school. After leasing our charming but limited space for many years, we were scheduled to move into a refurbished co-located facility. This was a watershed moment for the district, as it marked the first time in recent memory that two existing schools—one citywide magnet and one neighborhood school—would be co-located in the same facility. The district was committing $23 million to the renovation, and it was seen as a potential roadmap for a district with many severely underutilized facilities. We’d spent the better part of two years preparing—designing the facility, getting to know each other’s faculty, and prepping for the students from both schools to get to know their new neighbors in a way that was powerful and positive. (more…)

Helping Students Affected by Trauma During the Holidays

For most of us, thinking about the fall and winter months conjures up happy memories—hayrides, big family dinners, and presents galore. However, the holiday season can be difficult for our students affected by trauma. (more…)

Leading Through the Struggle

We spend a great deal of time as school leaders talking about building culture. We often consider the day-to-day elements of this work: eating lunch with the kids, visiting classrooms, being visible at all kinds of school events, and having meaningful conversations with teachers and students. The work of leading a school and building a culture is much like leading a family, full of joy and, inevitably, pain. (more…)

From Trauma Aware to Trauma Responsive

Each day, millions of students arrive at school carrying the burdens of trauma. The statistics regarding childhood trauma in our country are staggering: data from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health indicate that over half of U.S. children between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) and nearly 30 percent have experienced two or more. ACEs such as abuse, neglect, loss of a parent, and exposure to violence have been linked to a range of negative outcomes relating to health, behavior, and life potential. (more…)

Recovery After a School Shooting: There Is No Manual

Guest post by George Roberts

August 27, 2012. The first day of school for the 2012–13 school year. The sun was shining; the sky was a brilliant blue; the air was thick with the smell of freshly cut grass; the students were wearing their best back-to-school clothes; and the schoolhouse was filled with a palpable sense of excitement that only the first day of school can bring. Little did I know that three hours later the smell of gunpowder would fill the cafeteria, the smiles would turn to tears, and the excitement flipped to fear.

Any principal, teacher, or student who has faced the trauma of a school shooting event will understand these descriptions and rapid change of emotions. For me, it was all of these things and so much more as principal of the largest high school in my district and the one responsible for the well-being and safety of more than 2,000 students and 200 staff.  (more…)

Redefining the High School Experience: A Trauma-Informed Approach

Guest post by Deborah Moya

What makes ABQ Charter Academy (ABQCA) different from any traditional high school or charter school? I believe our mission statement says it all: “The mission of ABQ Charter Academy is to redefine the high school experience.” Many of our scholars have had very negative experiences in traditional high schools. They seek to find a place where they belong, and we offer an environment that is centered on each individual scholar and their unique differences.  (more…)

Understanding the Hidden Struggles of our Students and How We Can Help Them

Guest post by Amber Rudolph

Robin Williams once stated, “All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul, and they will never notice how broken you really are.” Sadly, these painful words mirrored Williams’ true feelings, as he succumbed to suicide after a long struggle with addiction and his mental health. Like Williams, many adolescents also mask their painful struggles with abuse, neglect, bullying, and other traumas. How do we as administrators create a supportive environment that addresses the often-hidden emotional lives of our students? (more…)