More than half of the students in a typical classroom have experienced some form of abuse or neglect, encountered a violent crime, or experienced another traumatic event. Trauma can impact brain development and impair a student’s ability to learn and/or control behavior and social functioning. Trauma can also significantly affect a student’s overall performance at school contributing to poor attendance and an increase in behavioral problems that lead to suspension or expulsion, and a higher dropout rate.

Through the DLIvering Compassion Capstone Project, a core group of Union County teachers and school personnel will attend a Compassionate Schools training offered at the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center. Compassionate Schools is a training framework designed to improve educational and behavioral outcomes for students by cultivating a trauma-sensitive learning environment that promotes building skills of resilience. Instruction includes understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), recognition of maltreatment and significant family issues, skills of resilience, cultural sensitivity, mandated reporting, and understanding healthy boundaries and practices for professionals.

Ten teachers and staff from two Union County Elementary Schools will attend a 3-day Compassionate Schools Summer Summit (2018) and 35 additional staff will attend a half-day Compassionate Schools program introduction. The training will serve as the first step in creating a sustainable plan to address ACEs in Union County schools.

In addition, the team will help initiate a network for Greenville, Spartanburg and Union County Schools to engage in peer sharing, to disseminate best practices and to encourage the expansion and sustainability of trauma-sensitive practices.