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Student Well-Being Opinion

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.

Five Steps for Trauma-Informed Ed. Leadership: Effective systems of student trauma support can be replicated from one district to another, writes superintendent Tiffany Anderson.
Science teacher Dianne Denmark quiets her 6th grade class during an animal-therapy session at French Middle School, in Topeka.
Dave Kaup for Education Week
Equity & Diversity Commentary Five Steps for Trauma-Informed Ed. Leadership
Effective systems of student-trauma support can be replicated from one district to another, writes Superintendent Tiffany Anderson.
Tiffany Anderson, December 13, 2016
5 min read
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 Grier.
Melody Newcomb for Education Week
Student Well-Being Commentary 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 Grier.
Terry B. Grier, December 13, 2016
3 min read
The Brain Science Behind Student Trauma: The brain’s response to trauma and unpredictable stress has critical implications for student learning, explains researcher Bruce Perry.
Anthony Russo for Education Week
Student Well-Being Commentary The Brain Science Behind Student Trauma
The brain's response to trauma and unpredictable stress has critical implications for student learning, explains researcher Bruce Perry.
Bruce D. Perry, December 13, 2016
3 min read
What a Shared Trauma Meant for My School: In Darrington, Wash., a deadly natural disaster magnified the other traumatic circumstances in students’ lives, writes principal Tracy Franke.
The March 22, 2014, mudslide in Oso, Wash., killed 43 people and devastated the nearby town of Darrington, 50 miles northeast of Seattle.
Ted S. Warren/AP-File
School Climate & Safety Commentary What a Shared Trauma Meant for My School
In Darrington, Wash., a deadly natural disaster magnified the other traumatic circumstances in students' lives, writes Principal Tracy Franke.
Tracy Franke, December 13, 2016
3 min read
How Art Can Help Children Overcome Trauma: Creative expression in schools gives students an opportunity to work through deep emotional wounds, writes Heidi Durham.
The March 22, 2014, mudslide in Oso, Wash., killed 43 people and devastated the nearby town of Darrington, 50 miles northeast of Seattle.
Elaine Thompson/AP-File
Student Well-Being Commentary How Art Can Help Children Overcome Trauma
Creative expression in schools gives students an opportunity to work through deep emotional wounds, writes Heidi Durham.
Heidi Durham, December 13, 2016
3 min read
Student Well-Being Commentary Inside a Student Wellness After-School Program
Wellness and self-care practices can equip students from underserved communities to handle the circumstances of poverty, writes Ali Smith.
Ali Smith, December 13, 2016
2 min read

Coverage of leadership, expanded learning time, and arts learning is supported in part by a grant from The Wallace Foundation, at www.wallacefoundation.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.