Article / Sauk Valley News: “Dixon Schools Partner with Florissa to Help Children with Trauma”
At the beginning of this academic school year, two elementary schools within the Dixon Public School District launched an innovative 3-year intervention in collaboration with Florissa Pediatric Development Center which is a division of Kreider Services Inc.
Collaborative Learning for Educational Achievement and Resilience (CLEAR) is a powerful intervention program for students who have experienced adverse childhood experiences and the stress and developmental challenges that result from these early life experiences. CLEAR, which has been deployed in more than 50 schools and early learning programs across the country, provides an adaptive coaching model for the whole school that involves the provision of ongoing training and consultation to staff over three years.
DPS 170 began this process a few years ago through its commitment to sending groups of staff members (administrators, teachers, counselors, social workers, and paraprofessionals) to professional development trainings on trauma. These trainings led to the development of a District Trauma Committee which eventually identified CLEAR as a school-based intervention that would ultimately help the District integrate trauma-informed practices sensitive to students’ needs into the school environment.
Over a 3-year intervention process, CLEAR seeks to build staff expertise progressively in alignment with the school’s existing instructional and student support practices. It is designed to support learning outcomes for all students as well as meet the needs of the most vulnerable students who may present with behavioral, academic, social, and emotional challenges. Mr. Sagel, principal of Madison Elementary, explained “CLEAR is different from other school-based interventions in that a clinical expert is embedded within the school staff and becomes one of the staff consulting and helping teachers and paraprofessionals meet all student needs.”
Florissa staff is receiving training from the Child and Family Research Unit of Washington State University to become a CLEAR regional partner center through a National Child Traumatic Stress Network grant.
Child psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Cunningham began her work at Washington and Madison Elementary Schools this year, where she provides on-site coaching and consultation training for two days per month at each school. The principal at Washington Elementary, Mr. Gould, praised the addition of CLEAR. “Dr. Cunningham has not only been educating Washington staff on recognizing trauma but how to appropriately respond to students experiencing trauma. How to appropriately respond to these events is what our staff members thirsted for. Dr. Cunningham has attended teaming meetings to discuss student issues and has provided substantive changes that have netted positive results in our students’ day to day educational program.”