Student Trauma: How School Leaders Can Respond

Each year, nearly one-third of schoolchildren in the United States suffer significant brain-function impairment—with academic and social consequences—as a result of abuse, neglect, domestic violence, poverty, or other personal challenges, writes researcher Bruce D. Perry.

District and school leaders are uniquely positioned to offer trauma-informed practices to their staff and students. Art therapy, yoga, and mindfulness training for students, as well as professional development and coping strategies for educators, are just some of the cortisol-reducing activities that have been shown to promote healing and improve school climate, student attendance, and student learning.

In this special Education Week Commentary package, past and current district superintendents, a principal, and two founders of trauma-informed programs reflect on proven strategies that are making a difference in the lives of children and adults.

The Brain Science Behind Student Trauma

The brain’s response to trauma and unpredictable stress has critical implications for student learning, explains researcher Bruce D. Perry. Read Story

Five Steps for Trauma-Informed Leadership

Read StoryEffective systems of student trauma support can be replicated from one district to another, writes superintendent Tiffany Anderson.

Inside an After-School Wellness Program

Read StoryWellness and self-care practices can equip students from underserved communities to handle the circumstances of poverty, writes Ali Smith.

How Art Can Help Children Overcome Trauma

Read StoryCreative expression in schools gives students an opportunity to work through deep emotional wounds, writes Heidi Durham.

What a Shared Trauma Meant for My School

Read StoryIn Darrington, Wash., a deadly natural disaster magnified the other traumatic circumstances in students’ lives, writes principal Tracy Franke.

Student Stress Is Education’s Overlooked Crisis

Proven strategies for managing stress help both students and adults within a school community, writes former superintendent Terry B. Grier. Read Story

This special section is supported by a grant from The Wallace Foundation. Education Week retained sole editorial control over the content of this package; the opinions expressed are the authors' own, however.

Top illustration by Anthony Russo for Education Week. Bottom illustration by Melody Newcomb for Education Week.

Vol. 36, Issue 15