University of St. Thomas Magazine Fall/Winter 2020

Last year, Campbell held a day-long workshop for School of Education and Dougherty Family College faculty on the principles of trauma-informed education led by David Read Johnson, a nationally known trauma expert. Realizing that wasn’t enough, though, Campbell paved the way for the Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) course Becoming Trauma- Informed: A Primer for Educators. The online, self-guided class was spearheaded with content from Johnson along with School of Education faculty Jayne Sommers and Muffet Trout. In the spring, Campbell is planning to include trauma- informed training elements in the curriculum for all education majors. “We are going to make sure all of our students truly understand what trauma-informed care means,” Campbell said. “It is needed more than ever. Everyone’s experiencing trauma in multiple ways right now – not just because of COVID-19, but also racial injustice.” Teachers can be the first line of defense to reduce trauma Childhood trauma and its effects have been captured with a growing body of research, commonly referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES). This could include trauma that is incident related, or more enduring related to violence, abuse or neglect; witnessing violence in the home or community; growing up in a household with substance abuse, homelessness, mental health problems or instability due to divorce or incarceration. Trauma shows up in the classroom in many ways, from a student having trouble concentrating to expressing themselves through angry outbursts. What triggers these reactions is often unpredictable.

Insecurities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic also are affecting children, as are racial injustices brought to the forefront after the killing of George Floyd, said Johnson, an associate clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, co-director of the Post Traumatic Stress Center, and CEO of Miss Kendra Programs that help schools to address trauma proactively. “Nobody is saying that there’s a child coming back to school unfazed,” Johnson said. “It’s a reality every teacher has to be able to handle. If 100% of your kids are affected by something, you don’t need an expert; you’ve got to become the expert. That is what’s happening all around the country. Everyone realizes all the kids are coming back to school needing social-emotional supports.” Johnson said trauma in schools is a public health issue and schools must take responsibility for the social and emotional health and development of our children, since educators are often the main adult outside of the home to regularly interact with some children. “What’s happening now is the realization this is something school has to take over, not as experts in psychotherapy or PTSD, but on treating human beings ethically, developmentally appropriately, and in ways that are going to be support their social- emotional health,” he said. “Our social contract with the school has to change.” Dr. MayKao Y. Hang, vice president of strategic initiatives and founding dean of the Morrison Family College of Health, which has programs in social work, counseling psychology, and public health, agrees with Johnson. “The body keeps score when there is trauma. Experiencing trauma is like being blindfolded on a roller coaster and not knowing when the next big drop will be; there is both a physical and emotional

4 0

F A L L / W I N T E R 2 0

Powered by