The Transylvania Times -

Everyday Education: What Happens When The Whole World Stops?


Last updated 5/18/2020 at 12:16pm

I had been eagerly anticipating the opportunity to write the May educational article for The Transylvania Times about the amazing journey that Davidson River School (DRS) is taking to become a Trauma Skilled Certified School. I imagined that I would cite incredible statistics illustrating how beautifully our students had done and all the healing that had taken place. I would share stories of increased attendance, less school wide discipline issues and even improved test scores.

I also imagined that I would write this amidst the annual frenzy of the joyous preparations for graduation, the intake meetings for new students, summer school preparation and the general craziness perennially found in any school in the first week of May. I should be applauding Joe Russo, who after a career spent inspiring kids, supporting colleagues and fighting for change, is retiring. Or, applauding our teacher of the year, Jess Williams, who has created a safe place for our students with disabilities while at the same time pushing them to reach academic goals of which they never knew they were capable.

Instead, after all of these years in education, I sit here in my office listening only to the eerily unsettling sounds of complete silence. Schools should be noisy places where teaching and learning happen and curiosity abounds. Yet this year, despite the fantastic job of our teachers in reaching out to their students, creating meaningful lessons, and checking and monitoring progress to ensure that learning never stops, sadly, many of our students (and teachers) have found only isolation and struggle. So, while we have statistics, they will be an unfortunately incomplete picture of all that was accomplished in the time we did have our students with us.

For many students in trauma, schools provide the safest and most supportive place for them to come. A good breakfast and lunch, a temperature-controlled space, adults who want good things for them and a safe environment all make school the most appealing place to come.

Additionally, at DRS, we are intentionally consistent with making authentic connections. We value emotional and physical safety and a sense of belonging. We foster feelings of success every day, support student growth and student effort, and teach self-determination and how to overcome failure. We help students manage the feelings that they are having as opposed to punishing them and then help them to restore relationships with those they have offended. The result of this is fewer suspensions, less removal from classrooms, healthier relationships and a stronger attention to problem solving and mediation. Everyone wins when this occurs.

(Grimm is a certified school administrator with more than 20 years teaching experience.)


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