BOSTON (CBS) – Fourth grade teacher Michelle Simon knows that trauma can take its toll on her classroom.
“Tables can flip, chairs can fly, students can leave the classroom without permission. There may be a fight,” Simon said.
Simon says perfectly behaved students can, all of a sudden, have issues all because of the traumatic events they have experienced in their lives. That is why Simon’s school, Mattahunt Elementary School in Mattapan, is combating trauma with a new innovative program.
The program, funded by a grant from EdVestors, puts all of Mattahunt’s employees through a five-hour training course on trauma response. The course aims to teach employees how trauma negatively impacts child brain development and the indicators that a child has experienced trauma. A trained clinician from the Home for Little Wanderers assists the school.
“Understand that if we come at them with compassion instead of in a punitive way, that we can really help them change their behaviors and help them feel supported and not attacked,” Mattahunt’s clinician, Bridget Macke said.
How to combat trauma is a question some in Boston’s schools have tried to tackle in recent years. That is because a 2013 survey of the health of Boston’s children found that 52 percent of Boston’s kids had an adverse or traumatic experience. Nine percent of kids experienced trauma three of more times in their lives, the study found.
Simon says the atmosphere in her classroom has improved since the trauma training.
“They’re very happy. They are happy. And we have moments. There are times that I’m not happy but we’re in it together,” Simon said.