Urban education is filled with challenges which can feel insurmountable.
Violence, bullying, poor work conditions, high staff turnover, significant funding shortages, high drop-out rates, low academic performance, limited resources, poverty, trauma, etc.
I greatly admire the staff and leadership of so many of our urban schools who have these obstacles to overcome. In our own city of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia School District (PSD) has been no exception to the struggles of urban education. The funding issues alone have been a huge crisis chronically. Yet they have survived so many storms. I appreciate the efforts of Superintendent Hite and all of his staff.
Lakeside Global Institute has been a part of their trauma education program. Through some private funding and funding from United Way we have been able to offer trauma training and other socio-emotional courses to teachers in the Philadelphia School District. Remarkably many of them have taken courses after school hours on their own time. They have been so compelled to improve the conditions of their schools and classrooms that they were willing to go through weeks of intense training.
In the past 5 years, we have been able to offer 48 workshops to over 1,367 school district employees. We also have offered intensive training to 1,086 employees in 77 different group courses. When we held registrations for these courses on-line, they filled up almost immediately to the degree that staff members were extremely frustrated that they could not take our trauma training. Amid so many crises and limitations we have been able to create a new lens and develop skills for teaching staff through our trauma education courses and workshops.
Recently PSD has hired full-time trauma staff who travel from school to school whenever there is a crisis in order to support both students and staff. The leadership of PSD has clearly recognized that much of what the staff and students are dealing with is trauma-related. They have hired professional staff to be involved in training as they support students and school staff when there is a traumatic event. For a school district of this size, that is exceptional perspective, in their support and promotion of effective interventions.
To further enhance and develop a new trauma lens for all PSD staff, the leadership has secured a juvenile justice grant and has contacted Lakeside to create training both live and on-line for staff so that the entire district staff can have access to extended trauma training. They are strategizing with Lakeside to offer workshops, intensive training and our Neurologic training to several of their schools in order to expand the knowledge and skills of their staff as they deal with significant trauma narratives in the lives of their students.
We are anticipating the same results that we have already experienced in PSD. It will be exciting to open new opportunities for trauma-informed environments to be established in the Philadelphia School District. Amid so much trauma this large urban educational district is moving forward with innovation and commitment to expand their trauma lens and develop new skills in their staff to equip them to help their students. We feel very privileged to have PSD in our network of trauma training. We look forward to continuing to support their staff as they deal with the traumatic world of urban education.