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Hinton, WV: Teachers learn about how trauma from home creates discipline problems

Nov 30, 2018, Beckley (WV) Register-Herald: 'Paper Tigers' features what trauma can do to a developing brain HINTON — A panel of Summers County education officials participated in a discussion Thursday after a screening of "Paper Tigers," a film focused on school discipline approaches, where each advised the crowd what the county was doing to take on discipline approaches of its own. Paper Tigers, which had its initial release in 2015, follows a year in the life of an alternative high school in Walla Walla in Washington State that has radically changed its approach to disciplining its students, becoming a model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease affecting families. The makers of Paper Tigers describe the film as following six troubled teenagers at Lincoln Alternative School. Considered a last chance before dropping out, many students attend Lincoln with a history of behavioral problems, truancy and substance abuse. In 2010, the principal of the school, Jim Sporleder, learned about the science of what a rough childhood does to a developing brain. … That's when the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study came into play. According to film officials, the study shows stressful events during childhood — like divorce, domestic violence, or living with someone with a mental illness — massively increases the risk of problems in adulthood. Problems like addiction, suicide and even heart disease have their roots in childhood experience as well, they said. … In Paper Tigers, suspension became a last resort as the school formed an in-school suspension program, keeping the kids in contact with the staff and caught up with their homework. They also established a health center on campus so the students would have ready access to pediatricians and mental health counselors. Filmmakers claimed the biggest challenge for the teachers was to consider the source of the kids’ behavior. Lincoln Alternative School Science teacher Erik Gordon said, "The behavior isn’t the kid. The behavior is a symptom of what’s going on in their life.”… "We have to realize our world has changed, and I want us to be the changers for these kids." … She used an example of sensory baskets being used at Hinton Area Elementary. She said each basket is placed in every corner of the classroom, and if a child comes into the room upset, angry or anxious, they can go to the basket and mess with the objects inside. "It helps them calm down, and get their emotions in check," she said. "It's just little things that help these kids." …

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