What’s driving the movement is Beach’s team of compassionate, committed staff and the collaboration of student support programs on campus: Restorative Justice, Safe and Civil, and our recently launched It’s About T.I.M.E. (Trauma-Informed Movement in Education) pilot program, among others.
“Each number cited is a child, and each figure trending in a positive direction is a life positively changed,” said Patricia Costales, LCSW, our CEO. “These first semester outcomes speak volumes to the positive impact the trauma-informed approach can have in the hands of influential community members like school staff.”
At the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic school year, we launched It’s About T.I.M.E. in partnership with Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) and Beach High School, with future plans to expand the trauma-informed program to additional schools within the district to help children throughout the community who have experienced trauma.
It’s About T.I.M.E. goes hand-in-hand with restorative justice practices, brought to Beach by California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ) five years ago, and safe and civil initiatives established at Beach over the past several years. Both programs’ focus on supporting students’ personal and academic success through positive behavioral support has the laid the foundation for It’s About T.I.M.E.’s training for staff.
It’s About T.I.M.E., which is based on ChildTrauma Academy’s Neurosequential Model in Education (NME), supports and encourages staff in the understanding that many children have endured ongoing, significant life stressors and traumatic experiences, and that trauma can inhibit students’ ability to succeed in the traditional classroom environment. The goal of the program is to support staff in seeing students and their challenging behaviors through a different or “trauma-informed” lens that promotes healthy bonds, which are scientifically proven to help students’ brains heal emotionally and develop academically.
Nathan Swaringen, LCSW, clinical therapist in our School Based program, trained Beach staff in the trauma-informed approach at the beginning of the school year, and has continued on as a collaborator, consultant, model and instructor to Beach staff.
“I am impressed daily by Beach staff. They care so much about every student and are committed to supporting them any way they can,” said Nathan. “Beach staff has taken their new understanding of the neuroscience of trauma and combined it with an eagerness to truly view students’ challenging behaviors and attitudes through a lens of compassion and unconditional love to create relationships that are changing lives.”
At the end of the first semester, Beach students were given a survey. The majority of students surveyed expressed that they feel “the school is a supportive and inviting place.” And, 91 percent of all students surveyed report having at least one staff member with whom they have a positive connection. Both are critical components of an environment that helps children who have experienced trauma succeed in the classroom and in their personal lives.
Teachers are also voicing their excitement over the program.
“This is my favorite year teaching…EVER…because of Nathan. It has a lot to do with the mindset that I started the school year with because It’s About T.I.M.E. training helped me understand the students’ behavior rather than just trying to control it,” said a Beach High School teacher.
Another teacher explained, “Nathan caused an awakening of a whole new paradigm on this entire campus, but particularly in me. I now see my students through a completely new lens. Not only has Nathan helped improve emotional regulation throughout the campus, he has taken the time to personally help regulate me.”