Trauma Informed Teaching in Action

January 18, 2017

CS Partners promotes and supports innovation as one way to meet the needs of the whole child and is committed to innovation as a path to educational reform. A great example of this that I would like to highlight is the innovative leadership and educational reform efforts at Clara B. Ford Academy. Driven by the school mission and vision, this school seeks to “treat, heal and educate” their students.

Clara B. Ford is a strict discipline academy for female students between the ages of 12–19 years old, led by Dr. Beverly Baroni. The girls in this program are sent to the school through the court system for various offenses or circumstances. Addressing the whole child and improving their academic progress is a challenging task. The girls are often here for short periods of time and don’t always have the advantage of attending the school for a full school year. However, Dr. Baroni has addressed this challenge through “Trauma Informed Teaching”. High expectations that students will succeed academically and socially using trauma informed interventions and effective teaching strategies is proving that by supporting students in regulating their emotions yields increased academic improvement. They’ve identified a team of staff members known as the “Monarch Team” who work collaboratively with the Trauma Specialist to increase support for students in regulating their emotions so they can increase the time they spend in the classroom on academics.

Trauma Informed Teaching has become a buzz word lately, but what sets the Clara B. Ford program apart from the others is that the program is data driven. The theory of Trauma Informed Teaching and Learning is actually put into practice here. Dr. Baroni works collaboratively with Wayne State University in an “action-research” design to inform how well the students are responding to the strategies. Constantly looking for ways to improve this practice leads to a staff that must work together to implement the strategies with fidelity while diligently recording and reviewing the data. Dr. Baroni has high expectations for her staff, but the staff has high expectations for themselves and the students as well.

The success and data from this program has resulted in requests for Dr. Baroni to share the data and experiences with the larger educational community. The work is published in peer review journals and non-juried publications like MEA Voice, Center for Education (CEN) and Networking and the National Association for School Social Workers (Connections). Dr. Baroni has spoken at the National Drop-out Prevention Conference, Council on Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting and ACSSW-NOLA Conference, just to mention a few.  Additional requests to meet with EAA schools to discuss how Trauma Informed Teaching and Learning may help their schools along with state visits is a testament to the good work that is occurring at Clara B. Ford. The interest is expected to grow as educational leaders seek ways to improve their own academic programs by reaching out to the whole child through understanding the “why” for each child.

Dr. Baroni brings to the table years of experience in social work and a doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership. She is an Adjunct Professor, teacher, administrator and researcher. At CS Partners we recognize and commend Dr. Baroni’s leadership and hard work in taking innovative strategies in the classroom to the next level.

Written by: Comerlynn Trout, Director of School Leadership at CS Partners