Thousands attend OSDE trauma summit in OKC

Published: 02/18/2020, 2:34 PM
Edited: 03/11/2021, 10:22 AM
(OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.) Thousands of educators gathered in Oklahoma City Monday for the third – and largest – summit on trauma-informed instruction hosted by the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). Approximately 10,000 registered for “Bridges to Hope: Teaching in the Shadow of Trauma,” while hundreds more watched the summit via livestream from the OSDE website. Held inside the Cox Convention Center Arena and free to attendees, “Bridges to Hope” marks the largest professional development event ever undertaken by the OSDE. Attendees learned the neuroscience behind the behavior of students who have endured adversity. The keynote speaker, Dr. Bruce Perry, is an international expert on how childhood experiences impact the brain. Developed in cooperation with 5,000 clinicians around the world and based on data from 70,000 people, his Neurosequential Model is an individualized, evidence-based approach to intervention that works for all children. “Every student arrives in our classrooms with a unique set of past experiences,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “Neuroscience has proven that adverse childhood experiences negatively impact a child’s ability to learn, but Dr. Perry’s approach works for all children. It is imperative that teachers receive evidence-based information and practical ways to adapt their instructional approach to all students, including those who may have suffered adversity.” Perry, founder of The ChildTrauma Academy in Houston, shared clinical research and practical strategies to empower teachers to develop trust and instill hope in their students. “I want everybody in this room to walk away with a better understanding of their own power,” said Perry to an audience largely composed of educators and pre-service teachers. “Part of what we know is that the relational interaction between the adults in a child’s life and the child have an incredible impact.” Perry, who refers to these interactions, collectively, as “relational wealth,” emphasized the importance of providing “therapeutic moments” for students. These brief, repetitive interactions – such as greeting children in the hall – take mere seconds, Perry said, but when hundreds of them accumulate, they help regulate behavior and help give students a sense of safety and belonging, thus creating a “therapeutic web” that facilitates resiliency and learning. “And you’re the people that do that,” he said. “It’s not the people in the therapist’s office. It’s people in the life of the child who end up making much more powerful and enduring change.” Gov. Kevin Stitt kicked off the summit at 9 a.m., then Hofmeister gave a short welcome and introduced Perry. Oklahoma children suffer more trauma than almost anywhere else in the country, according to the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health. Adverse childhood experiences, which include indicators such as socioeconomic hardship, physical and emotional abuse and neglect, are used to assess cumulative childhood stress. Research shows that trauma can create long-term changes in the brain, manifesting in learning difficulties, depression and other mental illnesses in young people. Children dealing with trauma at home have an increased chance of exhibiting negative behavior and poor decision-making in the classroom and beyond. Ultimately, childhood trauma can contribute in negative health outcomes in adulthood. Beginning in March, teachers in Oklahoma will have additional opportunities to learn about trauma-informed instruction. OSDE will host five regional trainings with 2019 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year and Moore tornado survivor Becky Oglesby to help teachers implement strategic solutions in their classrooms. In the coming months, the agency plans to reach tens of thousands of educators through new online trauma-informed training modules for individuals and teams of teachers. “Bridges to Hope” was funded through federal grants and local sponsors, including the Arnall Family Foundation, Oklahoma Education Association, Fight for the Forgotten, Inasmuch Foundation, Forming Lives, Oklahoma Public School Resource Center, Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration and the Potts Family Foundation.


This story has no comments yet