In 2016, Kathy Van Horn and Josh MacNeill first traveled to Oslo, Norway to begin working with several groups, most notably, a group of teachers, counselors and leaders from Stovner High School. Since that time, Josh has been coaching this group through Lakeside’s video studios to guide them through difficult student cases and behaviors, as well as, helping them to navigate the transformation of their school into a more trauma-informed setting. In these coaching sessions we worked through a wide array of challenging issues from truancy and disrespect, to fighting and issues rooted in extremist religions. Together, we made plans to address these issues head-on and saw some fantastic results.
With the success this group has been seeing, Stovner decided it was time to train their entire staff. In September 2018, Josh flew back to spend two days working with the entire staff of Stovner High School. The mission was to both provide the foundational content for making changes, as well as the momentum and insight to help these changes take root. On the first day of this visit, Josh spent time observing around the school and providing specific feedback to administration. On the second day, he met with the entire school staff to present information on trauma and the practical strategies they can be implementing; and then spent significant time in small groups as staff made specific plans for how to address their most challenging students in a trauma-informed way.
An Indescribable Change
Since this visit, staff have been showing a substantially increased willingness and ability to work with their students and get to the root of their difficult behaviors. Several members of staff have tried to explain a seemingly indescribable change in the climate of the school, where things simply feel “calmer” and “safer.” They cannot quite put their finger on why they feel this way, but it seems to be a common consensus across the school. Overall, they recognize that this is not the end, but a new beginning for Stovner. They serve a very difficult and diverse group of students in Norway. The needs and challenges will always be changing, but the staff are more prepared than ever to serve their students.
Josh then spent two more days in Oslo, where he worked with Oslo’s Department of Education. He trained and collaborated with this group who has staff members in every single school in Oslo. They are working towards discovering what it means to begin changing every school in the way that Stovner has changed. While we are only in the early stages of this relationship, we are excited to see how openly the people in Oslo were embracing new approaches to meeting their students’ needs. We are confident that big changes are underway in Norway, and we are proud to be part of it!