Some teachers in East Tennessee will soon train to make their schools more trauma-informed.
This is a new state program to help students dealing with stress from traumatic experiences.
Statewide, 68 schools were chosen for this first group through a competitive application process.
Thirteen of those are in our area of East Tennessee.
They represent Knox County, Blount County, Roane County, Jefferson County and Maryville City Schools.
One of those schools is Coulter Grove Intermediate School in Maryville.
"Because we're a 4th thru 7th [grade] school, we tell parents all the time that we take children from childhood to adolescence," said Dr. Ramona Best, who has served as the principal for seven years.
She said her staff has dealt with its share of student problems and conflicts.
"It's a period of high brain growth but it's also a period of high risk," she said.
Soon, Dr. Best's staff will be trained to respond when traumatic things happen in their students' lives.
Trauma could be anything from a parent's divorce, to loss of a loved one, to drug use, to bullying.
"And lots of times that comes up during this period of time because they're really able to think about it and so we deal with a lot of those things," said Dr. Best.
That's why she applied for her school to be in the first cohort of trauma-informed schools through the state department of education.
"It wasn't something we just wanted to try," said Dr. Best. "We had already taken actionable steps to address this issue."
One of those steps was installing the "Pathway to Peace" last year.
The path is a place where students could work out their issues with staff or peers while walking outside instead of sitting behind a desk.
"Different kids have different triggers and different things that impact them, and they need to respond in a way that is effective for them," said Dr. Best.
This new opportunity will send select staff to training to help students deal with their problems before they get destructive.
Dr. Best said when a teacher hears of a former student threatening to hurt themselves or others, they often think "what could I have done differently?"
This new program could help curb that fear.
"They have individuals that come back and you know threaten or act on those emotions and [now] really proactively addressing those as you go through school," she said.
Dr. Best said more staff at her school were interested in this training than they were allotted to send.
Selected teachers and administration will go through a webinar at the end of October, and then in-person training in November.
A full list of schools in East Tennessee and surrounding counties chosen for this first group of trauma-informed school can be found below:
Ridgedale Alternative School
Beaumont Magnet Academy
Austin East High
Northwest Middle School
Richard Yoakley School
Coulter Grove Intermediate
Liberty Bell Middle
Alternative Learning Center
Joseph Rogers Primary
Greenville City Schools
Greeneville Middle School
Greenville City Schools
Highland Elementary School