The 5th Annual Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools Conference was a fantastic example of being flexible and relational on so many levels. This year’s conference was an asynchronous hybrid, meaning that some attendees joined us in-person in Houston for our pre-conference sessions and the Sunday- Tuesday portion of the conference. Then even more took part in our virtual conference which featured two additional keynotes and several workshops, plus recordings from the Main Stage in Houston.
Over 4,000 educators, administrators and mental health professionals from across the US and around the world participated in this year’s conference – a HUGE milestone! We had nearly 500 with us in Houston and 3,800 with us virtually. It was an amazing time to explore the trauma-informed work being done in the midst of the most challenging years most of us, as educators, have ever seen. There were several highlights of this year’s conference:
— Pre-Conference Offerings. For the 1st time we offered half-day, pre-conference sessions to allow attendees to go deeper. A special thanks to Jessica Sinarski, LPCMH; Joe Brummer and Dr. Melissa Sadin for these incredible sessions.
—Sunday Night Kick-Off: Improv and the Brain. Scott Kuenneke of Calo Programs led this fun and informative way to start a conference, teaching us both improv activities AND the research he’s done on the use of improv to help teens with healthlier emotional, relational and communications skills.
— Monday Mathew Portell graciously stepped into the spotlight as our morning keynote in lieu of Dr. Fania Davis (who will be joining us in 2023). He encouraged us to look at the opportunities to make impact now and inspired us as an unapologetic disrupter.
— Tuesday the US Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona was our guest, joining us from DC as a veteran trauma-informed educator himself. He encouraged us all to stay close to the data and keep the students’ voice next to us while taking advantage of the opportunity in front of us to make important changes in education now, when they’re needed most.
— Thursday Morning Poly-Vagal Theory Discussion was an introduction for some and a refresher for others on the PV Theory and the importance of understanding that the roots of behavior are physiological. It was so great to have Dr. Stephen Porges himself to answer our questions.
— Hip Hop as Therapy. On Thursday evening attendees were treated to a showing of Mott Haven: A Short Documentary and then discussion with J.C. Hall, LCSW, the man whose program was highlighted in this documentary and who is making a real difference for high school students in NYC.
— Friday Flexibility! And Friday held the biggest surprise of all when Dr. Emily Nagoski, best-selling author was the pinch-hitter for her sister Amelia in our closing general session. Emily’s presentation on Burnout helped us shift the way we view our own stress responses and what we need to do to take care of ourselves. It was an incredibly inspiring way to end an incredibly inspiring week!
We kicked off the conference Sunday night in both a fun and informative way…Improv! And the research of Scott Kuenneke of Calo explained how and why improv helps teens become more relational.
Wendell Waukau, Superintendent of the Menominee Indian School in Wisconsin explains his school’s trauma-informed journey.
Radio ATN, sponsored by Tabor College, was a new addition to the conference, keeping everyone informed on the happenings all week!
Many teams from schools across the country took time to have fun together, and share messages back to their schools about what they were learning.