I don’t think this the most beautifully written post I’ve ever created. I do think it might be one of the most important.

Here’s why.

I am the most exhausted and energized I have been in a very long time!

Exhausted because…

I flew into Washington, DC, then spent nearly 2 hours getting from Dulles to my hotel. Not long after, I helped to stuff some 1200 welcome bags for CTSS2019 conference presenters and attendees.

Exhausted because I am an introvert by nature. My happy place involves sitting quietly on a rock by the river or curling up on the couch with my pets and a good book. The thought of meeting new people every five minutes or even every hour generally makes me want to crawl under the bed and hide.

Energized because…

I need to backtrack a minute here. I bet that last bit would surprise some of the people I’ve met these past two days. They generally find me smiling, ready to give information, answer questions, and share my story. The thing is, I’m one of those introverts who crawls out of her shell for the things she cares about, the truths in which she believes. And one of the things I care about most is helping kids, especially those affected by attachment issues and developmental trauma. So being with all these people who care about the same things I do, that gives me incredibly energy.

This conference is all about creating trauma-sensitive schools. Sometimes I wonder where these people were every time I swam upstream to get my son the help that by law he should have received? Or, on a more positive note, I wish I could connect them with the teachers who knew–even when they didn’t know they knew–how to work and connect with my child.

Is this what hope looks like?

Playing “what-if” and “if only” doesn’t get us very far, however. What matters is that ATN is here now. The CTSS2019 conference is here now, almost twice as big as last year. From everything I’ve heard, ATN and its supporters have once again knocked it out of the park. And me too, I am here, filled with something that I think might be hope. Hope that not just individual teachers but entire schools will see that making schools trauma-sensitive makes them better for all learners, not just our traumatized kids.

No one talks about hope anymore. Hope doesn’t seem to be the cool thing to practice or experience or feel. And yet here I am, experiencing hope not just for the future of education, but also for myself. I have known for a while that the wonderful people I’ve met through ATN are core members of my tribe. But it’s one thing to have a tribe somewhere out in cyberspace and another to finally greet them with gigantic heartfelt hugs. It’s one thing to know that other families have survived bogus CPS investigations and another to be in the room where everyone is swapping stories.

Who we are, individually and together, matters. What we’ve survived and accomplished and what we have yet still to do, it matters. We’re going to be here for each other. We’re going to be here for other people. Above all, we’re going to be here for the children.

And isn’t that what it’s all about?

group photo of three ATN
Janyne McConnaughey, Laura Dennis, Cissy White


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