Giving Compass' Take:

• Tanya H. Lee explains how trauma-informed schools care for students with compassion in order to support them and their education. 

• How can philanthropists help schools better understand and meet the mental health needs of their students? 

• Learn about the consequences of childhood trauma

At a Montana school, a fifth-grader threatened to strike his teacher with a chair. In many schools, the child would be suspended, expelled, or arrested, leading to missed school, further alienation, and possibly a criminal record. But that’s not what happens here.

This student is in one of Montana’s 10 Wraparound program schools. So instead, the student and his teacher at this school that serves mostly Native American kids, met with Stephanie Iron Shooter, director of the Montana Office of Public Instruction’s SAMHSA grant for trauma-informed care, to look for alternative solutions. “[The student] was able to tell the teacher that there were times when he felt he was going to get really angry and throw something,” says Iron Shooter. “He said that at those times, ‘I just want to go sit in a corner for a minute, then I’ll come back to the group.’” The teacher, with a new understanding of why the child acted out, was willing to accommodate his strategy for regaining self-control, and the student returned to class.

This meeting was part of an approach developed by the National Council for Behavioral Health, SAMHSA’s National Center for Trauma-Informed Care and Alternatives to Seclusion and Restraint, and other organizations to address the psychological and educational consequences of trauma.

Schools like these are using trauma-sensitive practices to address children’s mental health, behavioral, and academic issues. The goal is to create schools where adults—from the principal to the lunch room personnel—consistently respond to children with empathy and compassion.

Read the full article about truama-informed schools by Tanya H. Lee at YES! Magazine.