REL Appalachia Trauma Support for Schools Virtual Summit 2021

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In August 2021, the Regional Educational Laboratory Appalachia at SRI International hosted a virtual summit for school practitioners, policymakers, professionals, and researchers who support students and educators experiencing trauma. Experts from across the country shared actionable resources and information about evidence-based practices to support individuals experiencing trauma.

At this event, participants:

  • Deepened their understanding of the impact of trauma on students’ learning and well-being and proven practices to support students who are impacted by trauma.
  • Gained inclusive, equitable, and evidence-based strategies to support students and educators experiencing trauma.
  • Committed to collective action steps to address the consequences of trauma in schools.

In August 2021, the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Appalachia at SRI International hosted the Trauma Support for Schools Summit, a national, virtual event to share research and resources for supporting students and educators experiencing trauma. The 2-day summit was the culmination of the Cross-State Collaborative to Support Schools in the Opioid Crisis, a group of REL Appalachia staff and 30 partners from state and local education agencies, departments of health, community-based organizations, and universities located in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

At the summit, REL Appalachia staff, collaborative members, and experts from diverse communities across the nation shared their collective knowledge about inclusive, equitable, and evidence-based support for students and educators experiencing trauma.

Summit speakers and sessions provided resources to explore

Guest speakers engaged participants in discussions grounded in research and evidence. Speakers shared their expertise on such topics as the creation of trauma-informed schools, the intersection of trauma-informed supports with other frameworks for student supports, the importance of addressing secondary traumatic stress, and inequities in trauma exposure and response. Speakers also provided additional resources for participants to explore these topics further.

REL Appalachia staff facilitated working sessions to highlight resources the cross-state collaborative developed. Sessions focused on:

  • How to build school–community partnerships.
  • How to select and implement programs and classroom practices to support students experiencing trauma.
  • How to assess and improve school mental health services.

From these sessions, participants developed concrete next steps and individualized action plans to address student and educator trauma in their own communities, organizations, or schools.

An Action Agenda offers concrete steps to address trauma

All summit sessions built on REL Appalachia’s Action Agenda to Support Students and Educators Experiencing Trauma, which proposes a vision and path forward for a broad coalition of partners to bring inclusive, equitable, and evidence-based supports to students and educators experiencing trauma. The Action Agenda identifies four strategies that researchers, education and mental health service providers, and community and family members can take action to address high-priority needs:

  1. Implement practices and programs that address student and educator trauma, and evaluate implementation and outcomes.
  2. Create well-coordinated and data-informed systems of supports for students and educators experiencing trauma.
  3. Build the capacity of school staff to implement trauma-informed practices and programs.
  4. Engage partners, including families and other community members, in addressing student and educator trauma.

Using this Action Agenda, summit participants committed to specific action steps to continue this important work in their communities, organizations, or schools.

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Summit participants joined from across the country

Nearly 300 educators, service providers, researchers, and policymakers from across 15 states attended the virtual summit. Participants included state and local education administrators, teachers, principals, school-based mental health professionals, resource specialists, partners from community-based organizations (including juvenile justice and court staff, family engagement coordinators, public health educators, and nurses), researchers, training and technical assistance providers, and policymakers (including school board members).

On a feedback survey following the event, 99% of respondents reported they expected to apply information from the summit in their work.

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