The impact of trauma poses a substantial risk to students–something that is recognized more now than ever before. Increased reports of trauma and tragic circumstances resulting from trauma–such as increases in at-risk behaviors, and even suicide–are bonafide challenges schools face today.

Students need adults and school communities that foster for them the freedom to make their own decisions and to learn in a safe environment while at liberty to take reasonable risks. That’s the framework for learning and growing at our school, and the byproducts are happier, healthier students whose development is incubated in both a student-specific and schoolwide manner.

3 ways you can fight back against trauma

Following are strategies we employ with our students that help them succeed. These strategies are easily replicable in any school, because they use existing resources. “Stacking” strategies together like this perpetuates a cycle of success that reverses the status quo.

About the Author:

Dr. Michael Gaskell has been principal of Hammarskjold Middle School in East Brunswick, N.J. since 2006, following experience as a special educator and assistant principal in Paramus, NJ. Gaskell achieved his doctorate in educational leadership in 2014 and continues to model the pursuit of lifelong learning as he serves as a mentor to new principals in other schools through the NJEA Leaders to Leaders program. In his work as a principal, he works tirelessly to support instructional excellence, his faculty, the district, and, most important, the children as benefactors of idea sharing.


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