Highland Park Trauma Newsletter

November 2016: Creating a Sense of Safety

Thank you for the positive feedback on the first newsletter! This month, our focus is on creating a sense of safety within the school. As we embark on this work, it is important to acknowledge that people who grow up with a sense of safety (loving parents, secure home, enough food to eat) simply can't imagine growing up without safety. Often, children who have experienced trauma may perceive threat or danger where we see none, and that can be confusing and frustrating for staff who work with them.

Please take four minutes to watch the video below. It is an illustration of how a traumatic incident in childhood can change a person's (or a bear's) worldview.


Developmental trauma can negatively impact cognitive, academic, physical, emotional, spiritual, and social development. Students may be hypervigilant, defensive, irritable, defiant, or have unpredictable shifts in their mood and behavior as a result.

This may initially be discouraging, however the good news is that educators can help brains heal. New research on neuroplasticity, which we will discuss in more detail later, provides much hope for those of us impacted by trauma.

Big image
Big image
Even though we cannot control a child's safety outside of the classroom, here are some ways in which you are likely already creating a safe environment for your students.
Big image
In weekly social work sessions with students, in order to establish a sense of safety from the beginning, we start with meditation, guided imagery, yoga, body scans, or controlled breathing to help students ground themselves in the present and feel safe. Please contact your building social workers if you would like more information about any of these techniques. We'd love to share with you and your students.

Highland Park School Social Workers

Senior High:

Erica Sauer: erica.sauer@spps.org

Room 2206


Jane Schwark: jane.schwark@spps.org

Room 2207


Middle School:

Amy Austin: amy.austin@spps.org

Mon.-Wed., Fri. 1/2 day

Room 1319


Emily Klatt: emily.klatt@spps.org

Room 1006