Academy Day 2024

Largest Gathering of Trauma-Informed Educators

Building Resilience & Improving Children's Outcomes

Session 1: Sunday, Feb 18, 2024 8:30 am - 11:30 am (3 hours) Choose 1

Limit: 200

Jessica Sinarski, LPCMH

This lively session will take a fresh look at the root of “bad behavior” in students AND staff and the brain processes involved. Participants will discover new tools based on the latest neuroscience to increase learning opportunities, reduce negative behavior, and improve school culture. Whether you’re a brain novice or well-versed in research about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the brain, you won’t want to miss this hope-filled learning experience.


Topics:  Relational & Attachment Strategies, Classroom Strategies, Neuroscience/Regulation

Level: Intro

Limit: 200

Doris Bowman, M.S., ACTRP-E®/ACTRP-C®

Rick Bowman, M.A., CTRP-C®

“I am a Teacher, not a Therapist!” How many times have we heard these words ring out in a team meeting around a student struggling with trauma impacts or attachment issues? The real statements underlying these words are often “I haven’t been trained in mental health practices. I don’t have the skills I need to respond to this child’s needs! And I’m afraid I’ll look like a failure! Educators NEED and DESERVE a response; a response that acknowledges the legitimate concerns and fears that lay beneath these words, “I’m a Teacher, not a Therapist!” This session is designed to do just that.

Topics: Relational & Attachment Strategies, Neuroscience/Regulation, Classroom Strategies

Level: Advanced



Limit: 200

Joe Brummer

With current neuroscience showing behaviorism with its carrot and stick approach being harmful for children who have experienced trauma, schools need to learn new ways of dealing with challenging behaviors and discipline. This intensive workshop will introduce participants to the concepts, skills, and practices of restorative justice through a trauma-informed lens. Participants will learn in circle what restorative justice is and isn’t. We will visit the 5 skills of restorative while also learning to design and facilitate community building circles. There will be a balance of learning and practice in fun interactive ways. Space in this limited to allow for participants to learn and practice being in circle together.

Topics: Restorative Practices, Leadership, Classroom Strategies

Level: Intro

Limit: 200
Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz
Many of the students we serve come from families that are experiencing poverty. Educators go above and beyond to help their students, and when it feels like families are not engaged in the process, disappointment and judgment can result. Frequently an “us” and “them” culture develops between the school and home. What do educators need to move past this? What do our students who want to be successful but are under-resourced actually need? How do we build partnerships with families who seem disengaged with their child’s school? Empathy is key, but how do we even begin to understand what barriers our students and caregivers face, if we have not lived in their world? How do we build deep compassion for families surviving on the lowest economic rung, while also helping their child succeed and thrive? This workshop begins with a poverty simulation, where participants will assume a role of a person living in survival mode within four 15-minute “weeks.” This experience will bring into focus the struggles families face daily while also navigating the difficult reality of trying to support their child’s learning and achievement. This experience will likely radically change one’s approach to serving students and families who are experiencing the toxic stress of poverty. After the simulation, participants will debrief what they experienced, and then move to the topics of toxic stress, the journey to becoming a trauma-informed school, and the science of building resilience. We will close out deep dive with the hardest hill we climb in this journey: discipline versus punishment and how to best support students who are navigating the The River of Cruelty. Educators and other helping professionals will walk away with deeper insights, new belief systems, and strategies to take back to begin using with students and co-workers, as well as new ways to approach and partner with the families who love them.

Topics: Leadership, Classroom Strategies, Wellness/Self-Care

Level: Advanced

Session 2: Sunday, Feb 18, 2024 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm (3 hours) Choose 1

Limit: 200

Meagan Baldwin

Balance Auditory Vision Exercises is a series of about 300 exercises, using sandbags and racquet balls that provide patterned, repetitive, rhythmic, safe physical movement. These exercises can be used by individuals for self-regulation or in small and large groups for co-regulation experiences. Participants in this session will learn a brief history of BAVX, and watch a short demonstration. The majority of the session will focus on the participants learning the foundational techniques and experiencing the beginning BAVX exercises in both partner and small group configurations. Connections to both the CASEL core competencies and executive functions will be emphasized so that participants gain an understanding of how BAVX supports the principles of trauma-informed care. Each participant will leave the session with 2 sandbags to begin the exercises immediately with students/ clients. The target audience for this session will be educators interested in providing physical movement as an option for student regulation.

Topics: Neuroscience/Regulation, Classroom Strategies, Relational & Attachment Strategies

Level: Intro

Limit: 200
Connie Persike, M.S., CCC/SLP
In this hands-on and practical 1/2-day training session, we invite educators and professionals working with students to explore the powerful techniques of evaluating student behavior through a neuroscience lens. By utilizing neuroscience-aligned methodologies, participants will gain practical skills to identify stressors, triggers, and neuro-inclusive environmental needs, while also assessing skills and examining relationships within a student’s life. Additionally, each participant will receive a complimentary usage of the WHY Toolkit – Finding the WHY assessment. This toolkit provides valuable insights into individual student behavior, allowing participants to apply this learning from the training and integrate it into their assessment practices. 

Key Topics Covered: 1. Neuroscience Foundations: Building a working understanding of the autonomic nervous system and its impact on behavior. 2. Behavior as an Indicator: Recognizing behavior as a window into a student’s state of distress and arousal levels using the polyvagal theory. 3. Identifying Stressors and Triggers: Learning techniques to identify and understand the environmental, social, and emotional factors that influence student behavior. 4. Creating a Neuro-inclusive Environment: Exploring assessment techniques to assess the environment, ensuring that it meets the diverse neurological needs of students. 5. Assessing Skills: Understanding the interplay between behavior and developmental stages, and using assessment tools to evaluate skill progression. 6. Techniques for Assessment: Practical approaches to assess student behavior, including interviews, data-based observations, record reviews, and assessment tools. 7. Interpreting Assessment Data: Analyzing assessment results and synthesizing the information to gain a comprehensive understanding of the student’s behavioral profile. 8. Relationship Mapping: Examining the student’s relationships and social networks to uncover influential factors and support systems. 9. Case Studies and Hands-on Exercises: Engaging in interactive case studies and hands-on exercises to apply assessment techniques and deepen understanding. 

Throughout the training, participants will learn how to utilize interviews, data-based observations, record reviews, and assessments to effectively evaluate student behavior. By adopting a neuroscience lens, participants will gain invaluable insights into the student’s world, enabling them to identify stressors, triggers, and neuroinclusive environmental needs, as well as evaluate developmental skills and relationships within the student’s life. Join us in this transformative session as we equip ourselves with practical tools to evaluate student behavior from a neuroscience perspective, fostering understanding and supporting the diverse needs of students. As an added bonus, participants will receive a complimentary usage of the WHY Toolkit – Finding the WHY assessment, allowing for further exploration and application of assessment techniques in understanding individual student behavior.

Topics: Neuroscience/Regulation, Special Education,  Relational & Attachment Strategies, Neuroscience/Regulation

Level: Advanced

Limit: 200
Susan Driscoll

Guy Stephens

Designed to bring the neuroscience of behavior to the mainstream, Reframing Behavior shifts away from looking at all behavior as conscious and intentional, to looking at behavior as driven by the brain and nervous system and our biological need to feel safe. Reframing Behavior will examine the shortcomings of traditional behavior management, present evidence-based principles for understanding behavior, and will provide participants with foundational principles for positively supporting all students and the skills needed for application in the classroom. An online curriculum is required prework and will be sent out to participants to be completed prior to the workshop.

Topics: Classroom Strategies, Neuroscience/Regulation, Relational & Attachment Strategies

Level: Introductory


Limit: 200

Callie Flox, M.Ed.

Melissa Sadin, Ed.D.

Learning from the inside out will bring joy back into your classroom. Experience how music, movement and drawing align cognitive, physical, social and emotional processes to reduce stress and improve learning. Engage the mind and body with trauma sensitive strategies that can be used in any k-12 classroom. In just a few minutes each day, teachers can refresh themselves and help learners relax and be ready to learn.

Overview: Participants will engage in a five-step process to envision, align for and create change, while engaging in activities from dance, drama, music and visual art. After each activity, participants will reflect in small groups to increase self-awareness and sensitivity to others. Participants will receive direct instruction in how the brain functions, while they experience the brain-body connection and learn brain compatible arts strategies to use in the classroom. 

Outline of sequence: 

1. Participants will be invited to notice their own physicality, inside and out by standing, sitting, walking through space and activating the 5 senses and the body senses. 

2. Participants will apply the 5-step framework from Resiliency Through the Arts, (envisioning, observation, aligning, reflecting and celebrating) with goals/intentions for today and at the conference. 

3. Participants will experience the Brain Dance to experience personal physicality and a mind-body connection and review the research and neurophysiology behind the Brain Dance 

4. Participants will do basic drawing activities for relaxation and integration of hand-eye coordination and visual tracking with a pre- and post-assessment on visual acuity and tracking. 

5. Participants will “read” a work of art to build visual literacy skills, such as: noticing, tracking, details, inference, find evidence and interpret the work through drama strategies such as tableau, hot seating and thought tracking. 

6. Participants will experience beat, rhythm and tempo through music, and review the associated research on the benefits of music. 

7. Participants will notice their own bodies and articulate indicators of body, gesture, gait, and voice for reading body language. 

8. Participants will engage in conversations about: Creativity is resilience in action and resilience is creativity in action The Power of aesthetics- how beauty gives hope and courage. Characteristics of learners with toxic stress or trauma and current research on social and emotional learning. 

9. Participants will set a goal for their own classroom or school and apply the 5-step framework 

10. Questions and reflections

Topics: Restorative Practices, Classroom Strategies

Level: Introductory

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