Education Sessions

Across Shelby County, organization, institution, business, and civic leaders are sponsoring educational sessions facilitated by foundation staff and consultants. The sessions help participants gain an understanding of adverse childhood experiences and their impact on healthy development throughout life and ways to prevent ACEs as well as toxic stress. Offered free of charge, with portions tailored to the audience and the available time, the sessions run 60-90 minutes. The foundation conducts an average of 20 sessions per year with an average audience of 25.

Teacher Trainings

Trauma-informed teaching supports academic progress by not only acknowledging the role that trauma plays in the lives of both students and teachers but also by providing a safe, stable, and nurturing classroom environment that addresses the needs of the whole student. Trauma-informed teachers and staff are aware of trauma’s impact on students’ relationships and ability to self-regulate their behavior, and how those factors affect their classroom conduct and ability to learn. The foundation believes that if a school provides a safe, stable, and nurturing environment, it will be better able to address the needs of all students.

The foundation identified promoting the social-emotional health of students as a top priority and developed the following four-module series of school-facing trainings:

Module 1

Know Better: Introduction to the Developing Brain, ACEs, and the Impact of Toxic Stress 

Module 2

See Better: Developing a Trauma-Informed Lens

Module 3

Be Better: Adult Emotional Heath and Regulation

Module 4

Do Better: Fostering Self-Regulation and De-escalating Dysregulated Students

Taken together, these modules are intended to increase the tools and skills that school staff have to understand and address challenging student behaviors and, in turn, decrease the psychological distress of families. Many school staff want to skip straight to “What can I do differently?” However, the foundation has found that school staff must know better, see better, and be better before they can truly do better.

Supplementary Module 

Choosing to De-Escalate: Developed in partnership with SCS, including representatives from its SPED, Alternative Schools, and Student Equity, Enrollment and Discipline, this module is designed to help educators respond to students with challenging behaviors in ways that help de-escalate their negative conduct and become emotionally regulated in order to reduce the incidence of students being suspended or otherwise excluded from class. It focuses on exploring and shifting teachers’ mindsets around behavior so they will be more inclined to choose to respond to students in supportive and regulating ways, as well as on teachers’ posture, affect, and emotion, including specific strategies for responding to challenging behaviors more constructively.

Supporting Staff,
Supporting Youth-Serving Organizations:
A Trauma-Informed Approach

This project, funded by the United Way of the Mid-South, is developing a training program for staffs of youth-serving organizations that will help them: 

  • Realize the impact of trauma
  • Recognize the signs and manifestations of trauma
  • Respond to the trauma of young people by integrating knowledge about trauma into their practices, procedures, policies
  • Avoid re-traumatizing the young people whom they serve

School Leader Learning

The nine-month project had as its objectives to help collaborative members—nine elementary school principals—achieve the following: 

  1.  Deepen their understanding of what social-emotional health is and why it is important for their students, their teachers, and their schools
  2. Continue to shift their school’s paradigms, policies, and practices to better promote the social-emotional health of all students and staff
  3. Create plans for schoolwide implementation of policies and practices designed to support student social-emotional health
  4. Build a community with other school leaders who are invested in students’ comprehensive development (i.e., academic, cognitive, social, emotional, personal, mental, and physical).

The school leaders met monthly to learn about a different aspect of schoolwide social-emotional health implementation that ranges from cultural responsiveness and student heath to family partnerships and community collaborations to adult health and emotional regulation. 

At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, each leader submitted a plan for implementation of an aspect of schoolwide social-emotional health in the 2020-2021 school year and receive a microgrant from the foundation to support their plan. Leaders also completed an exit interview and exit survey about the impact of the collaborative.