As Lakeside continues to provide trauma-informed training for schools within our own region and beyond, we have become more and more aware of the need of such training throughout our nation. Varied states are struggling with this issue particularly in light of the rampant statistics on drug addiction and overdoses which are having significant effects on students in our schools. We recognize that what effects students effects teachers, classroom environments, school environments and the community at large.
Recently Diane Whitlock, the autism coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Education spoke passionately about the harsh reality of these issues that are permeating the schools in West Virginia. Below is the link to an article reflecting her comments and some of the realities that are being faced in West Virginia schools.
In it, she states, ““The opioid crisis has had such an impact on our schools, and our teachers are crying out for help.”
She added this prevalent point; “Students are coming into kindergarten with behaviors we’ve never even seen before, and as behavior problems increase, the academic scores go lower and lower.”
She cites example after example of the extent of the crisis and the impact it is having on school environments all throughout her state. It has created a social crisis but also a learning crisis all over West Virginia.
Once again, we recognize the growing need for trauma-informed education and services in our school environments all over our country. Teachers and administrators need a great deal of help with understanding the nature of trauma, how to regulate their students and also how to identify the specific help the students and their families need. It is a problem that will not go away without specific strategies to help mitigate the impact of trauma, addictions and other related mental health problems that are so prevalent.
Yet when presented with these rather harsh realities many of our states are still not actively pursuing some of the opportunities for change and growth that our students and teachers need in order to create a positive learning environment. This involves so much more than just education. It is equally the emotional, relational and behavioral climate that needs to be addressed in order for students and schools to succeed. Students need it, their families need it, the teachers and the community needs it. It is my hope that people like Diane Whitlock will be heard and be given the resources to help our schools become places of true learning and hope for our students.