School trauma program to expand


Staff Writer

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Public School Forum of NC’s Resilience and Learning Project that has been operating in Edgecombe County for the past year will expand into Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools this year.

Edgecombe County Public Schools was one of two pilot districts for the project, which works to create safer and more supportive learning environments for students, especially where trauma is prevalent in their student populations. According to a press release from the Public School Forum of North Carolina, local school districts where trauma-sensitive learning environments will be newly developed this year include Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools as well as the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank, Halifax, Johnston, Greene and Alamance-Burlington school districts.

“We’re pleased to be able to expand this important work beyond our initial pilots in Edgecombe County Schools and Rowan-Salisbury Schools,” Elizabeth DeKonty, director of the NC Resilience & Learning Project, said in a statement. “The early results from this program, which helps schools better support children dealing with trauma, are promising and we believe this approach to trauma-informed learning inside the school can make an enormous difference for children across North Carolina.”

Leondus Farrow, assistant superintendent of student placement and intervention at Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, said he is looking forward to working with the Public School Forum of North Carolina in this work.

"Our district is fortunate to have the opportunity to work collaboratively with the Public School Forum of NC's Resilience and Learning Project,” Farrow said. “We believe this joint effort will better prepare faculty and staff to more effectively provide a rich school experience for students who have experienced various childhood traumas. These additional resources and professional development opportunities combined with the collaborative work that we are already doing with other agencies will continue to actualize our district's vision of providing a bright and prosperous future for all students."

The Resilience and Learning Project also will expand to new schools in Rowan-Salisbury and Edgecombe, where the work began this past school year through pilot initiatives. 

“Edgecombe County Public Schools is grateful for the opportunity to continue working with the Public School Forum during the 2018-19 school year.” said Erin Swanson, director of innovation for Edgecombe County Public Schools. “Our two pilot schools, Stocks Elementary School and W.A. Pattillo Middle School, will be joined in this effort by Princeville Elementary School and Phillips Middle School. Resilience Teams at all four schools will be establishing trauma-sensitive learning environments to ensure all students feel safe, loved and ready to learn each day.”

The NC Resilience and Learning Project is a whole-school, whole-child framework to create trauma-sensitive schools that will improve academic, behavioral and social-emotional outcomes for students. During its 2017-18 pilot year, the project worked in three schools in the Edgecombe and Rowan-Salisbury school districts. The best practices and insights gleaned during this initial year of programming will inform efforts to develop trauma-sensitive schools in these six new districts beginning this fall, the press release said.

In other states, similar models have resulted in positive outcomes including lower suspension rates, lower office referral rates, improved attendance and better academic achievement, according to the Public School Forum of North Carolina.