SJSD Teachers Train to Help Students Cope with Trauma

Published 08/15 2014 04:13PM

Updated 08/15 2014 04:25PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) We all know teachers spend a majority of the day with students. Many of them, may be exposed to traumatic events but many not know who to discuss it with.

"Not every one of those situations will lead to trauma depending upon the support that child has and the inner resilience but in some situations it does," stated Jean West, social worker for the St. Joseph School District.

The SJSD is training teachers to help kids cope during upsetting experiences. Since behavior impacts a child's capability to learn, the new program will help teachers understand trauma and create a safe classroom environment.

"Sometimes when you are knowing when someone comes from it just helps you be more patient and strive harder to do what you can to make them feel comfortable and safe. I think that's the biggest thing is helping kids be safe," said Lori Cole, counselor at Lindbergh Elementary.

Traumatic situations don't always involve a tragic event. Sometimes, it could be a child dealing with divorce or moving to a new school.

West adds it's important to know what a child is going through to help them move forward.

"The real healing comes from one positive relationship within that child's life. That teacher will know what kind of response to give that child to help that child be able to regulate themselves and de-escalate," commented West.
As a school guidance counselor, Cole says she's seen situations where counselors were aware of a problem that teachers didn't know about. She says having the training will better connect the teacher-student relationship.
"They're the ones that seem them and know them better than anyone else and having this information will allow them an opportunity to maybe keep an eye and an ear out for those situations," said Cole.

The training was provided for five schools in the district. In addition, school counselors and social workers throughout the district are also working to be certified in trauma.

These trainings teach the Structured Sensory Intervention for Children, Adolescents and Parents (SITCAP) approach, an approach developed by the National Institute for Training and Loss in Children (TLC).

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