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Middletown, PA: SPED director has program for aggressive kids to learn coping strategies

July 9, 2018, ABC7 Harrisburg, PA: Middletown schools create program to help kids suffering from trauma The goal is to make kids feel safe and supported. "For some kids, it's outward and they're verbally aggressive, and in some instances physically aggressive," said Middletown Special Education Director Krystal Palmer. "In other cases, there are kids who are withdrawn." Palmer is talking about children who have experienced trauma, like abuse or extreme poverty. Some students have family members with addictions or who are incarcerated. "It's different for each kiddo," said Palmer. "We saw a need escalate over the last few years, and decided we needed to start thinking out of the box," said Superintendent Dr. Lori Suski. Suski says that's when the district decided to create the MATES program, which stands for Middletown Area Therapeutic Elementary Support. "We also knew we needed to do something to have the students in a setting that would allow the other students who are not experiencing those things to have less distractions in their learning environment," said Suski. Kids in the program will spend the entire school year in classrooms with ten or less students learning behavior management and coping strategies. "All of the staff are being trauma-certified," said Palmer. "The kids will get individual and group counseling, and that will happen as frequently as needed."…

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