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Rutland, VT: Teachers told that trauma makes kids unable to learn normally

Sept 14, 2018, Rutland (VT) Herald: Trauma-informed classrooms and Vermont’s switch to personalized education In an age plagued with addiction, economic disparity and mental illness, where technology is advancing faster every day, professionals say aging educational systems aren’t meeting the needs of Vermont’s growing minds. “We have to re-think everything we do when it comes to educating these kids,” said Mill River Union High School Principal Todd Finn. “We have so much more flexibility with school leadership, and the world is so different for these kids.” … “Educators need to understand the impact of trauma on the brain of a child to ensure their access to learning,” said Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Jeanne Collins. “…. Pre-existing trauma can be triggered or aggravated by the stress of a forced learning experience, which can result in adverse behaviors and a general disconnection from the student’s environment, according to Coral Stone, one of Mill River’s special education teachers who has a level-2 trauma practitioner certification. “There’s always an underlying cause. The brain holds onto traumatic memories, they do hold onto what happened,” Stone said. “Sometimes kids aren’t over what happened to them, and it impacts them academically, socially, in every way. Kids have to see school as a place they want to go, need to go, as a place that is theirs.” Fortunately, schools have some other resources. RNESU has been actively conducting trauma-sensitive seminars with David Melnik, of Center Point, an agency that provides inpatient and outpatient youth mental health services. Mill River has also been relying on Stone, who Finn said has been instrumental in re-teaching teachers how best to cater to students with trauma. Trauma doesn’t just come from one source — it’s the culmination of factors in a societal “pressure cooker,” as Stone puts it, where increased access to advanced technology and social media, combined with decreased socio-economic opportunity, detachment, archaic educational practices and increasing prevalence of mental illness have combined to form generations of disregulated students who struggle to maintain focus and positivity. “If you’re a healthy child, and you grow up in a supporting, caring environment, chances are, your brain is going to be primed and ready for academic advancement, good healthy life skills and appropriate social skills,” Stone said. “When you grow up in an environment with chronic stress and trauma, the three main sections of your brain change. Your ability to take in information and use it in a meaningful way can be adversely impacted because you’re not in a calm state of mind to learn.”…

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