What’s a trauma-informed school?

Visit Center McMechen Elementary and see for yourself.

This past summer, educators at the school studied Adverse Childhood Experiences (and evaluated their own ACE scores—to better understand their students’ trauma). They opened up a Calm Down room (and started issuing Calm Down cards), because they found that kids with this much pain needed the space to cool off—not more punishment. Mr. Richmond started an after school program called Boys Club, where some of the kids who are most despondent in class get to learn in different ways (life skills, citizenship, or lately a big on-campus landscaping project where the kids got to design, compare prices, and start building). Other educators partnered with local churches on a weekend meal program for families—to help get food into homes. On occasion, the school will even wash a child’s clothes.

This is what innovation really looks like, and it’s happening across the state: hard-working people on the front lines of our drug crisis, trying everything they can think of to love on these children.

Inequality isn’t just about wealth; it’s about pain. Like first responders, child care workers, and public defenders… teachers and school service personnel bear more than their fair share of our state’s pain. It takes a toll on them too.

84% of students at Center McMechen live below the poverty line, most of any school in the district. But their students score 3rd highest on standardized tests.

“We do more with less,” summarized Principal Arica Holt.

See some of our plans to address this issue: