Educators at Summit Ridge Academy alternative school report better outcomes among the students there after the school instituted “trauma-informed care,” the Lee’s Summit School District said in a recent release.
Research has shown that traumatic events in a young person’s life — abuse, neglect, violence, accidents, natural disasters, and the loss of family stability through death, divorce or abandonment — can lead to difficulties with behavior, academics and relationships. Understanding that has led to more effective strategies in classrooms and elsewhere in society.
“As a result of our learning and a commitment from our staff, Summit Ridge Academy has seen a dramatic shift in the way we respond to students,” Summit Ridge Principal Andy Campbell said in a release. “We understand the ‘why’ much better and, as a result, we have incorporated strategies and interventions into our daily routines to meet each student where they are each day. We work very hard to be proactive and meet student needs recognizing that behavior is a symptom of a larger issue.”
Rather than simply reacting to negative behaviors, Summit Ridge staffers use the trauma-informed approach to help students learn a new, productive way of dealing with their feelings and emotions.
“As a result, we have seen a decline in discipline issues and suspensions and an increase in the number of students completing the program and earning their diploma,” Campbell said.
Summit Ridge, with an average enrollment of about 125 students, began implementing trauma-informed care during the 2014-2015 school year. It was fully in place for the 2016-2017 school year.
Since then, Campbell has been sharing the insights as well as specific steps that Summit Ridge Academy has taken to combat the effects of trauma on students.
Last summer, for example, he shared a presentation called “Trauma Informed Care: Helping our Students Move from Surviving to Thriving Through Education and Mindfulness” at the Missouri Alternative Education Network conference. The presentation provided information on what trauma is, what causes it and how it affects students.
Campbell also has spoken with a Kansas City area group of alternative school directors and for the Kansas City Regional Professional Development Center.
Later this month, he will speak locally at the Midwest Symposium for Leadership in Behavior Disorders Conference.
Finally, in early March, Campbell will be a presenter at the National Alternative Education Association conference in Dallas, where Summit Ridge Academy will participate in the conference’s “Gallery Walk of Alternative Schools” to highlight the work being done there.
Campbell has worked for the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District for nine years. He formerly taught students with special needs at Pleasant Lea Middle School and Lee’s Summit West High School.
He also served an assistant principal and principal at Harrisonville High School for eight years before returning to Lee’s Summit in 2015 to work at Summit Ridge Academy.