WILMINGTON — To help children troubled by trauma, Wilmington City Schools’ (WCS) professional development day on Monday focused on trauma-informed care.
WCS Director of Pupil Services Natalie Harmeling gave a report to the school board Monday night about a three-hour session held earlier in the day on trauma-informed care. The in-service day was meant in part to assist teachers spot signs and symptoms of trauma.
The concepts of trauma and trauma-informed care have evolved greatly over the past 35 years, according to the online Encyclopedia of Social Work. Following the Vietnam War, professional understanding of post-traumatic stress disorder increased.
This greater understanding of trauma and its effects on war veterans have extended to how mental health professionals view trauma in the civilian world, including children who have experienced abuse, neglect and other traumatic events, the encyclopedia stated.
After Harmeling’s report, WCS Superintendent Melinda “Mindy” McCarty-Stewart said trauma-informed care involves “rethinking how we approach our students.” She also said the problem is a nationwide issue and not just about Wilmington.
As he did at last month’s board of education meeting, WCS Director of Facilities, Operations and Business Management Curt Bone gave a report about the new bus transportation model to accommodate a switch to grade-level centers at WCS’ three elementary buildings.
There has been progress on bus transportation since the August school board meeting, Bone said Monday.
But one thing school officials want to do — add a bus route in the southern part of the district — has not been put into operation, he said. The reason is there are not enough bus drivers, said Bone.
So the district continues to seek new bus drivers, he said, including placing a help-wanted advertisement in the News Journal.
He expressed appreciation to parents for their patience and feedback regarding bus issues.
East End Elementary Principal Jen Martin recognized several fifth-grade girls from her building, which houses preschoolers and fifth-graders.
These fifth-grade girls come early and help with the young preschool children at arrival time. They greet them, talk about the upcoming day, and walk them into the preschool student’s classroom.
Martin said the girls provided help and mentorship to the pre-K students, whom McCarty-Stewart described as “the youngest Wilmington Hurricane.”
Middle School Assistant Principal Brian Camp said the recent state report card for 2017-18 had a number of highlights for the Rodger O. Borror Middle School, three of which he highlighted. Those were a B grade for the building in the “Progress” component; the Gap Closing component; and a decrease in chronic absenteeism.
The “Progress” category in Ohio school report cards looks at the growth that all students are making based on their past performances.
The Gap Closing component refers to student demographic subgroups closing achievement gaps.
Camp said chronic absenteeism at the middle school during the 2017-18 academic year improved to 5 percent. Over time, Ohio’s goal is a chronic absenteeism rate of 5 percent or lower, according to the Ohio Department of Education. This year, the state department’s interim goal was 13.6 percent.
Denver Place Elementary Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel, in her report to the board, said the grades 3-and-4 building is very fortunate this year to have two math professional development (PD) aides.
Influenced by the PD aides, math instruction at Denver Place is promoting being a problem solver, as well as different ways to get to the answer of a math problem.
“So, it really stretches their [students’] mind,” said the principal.
During her classroom walk-throughs, Karshner-Rethmel has observed an English language arts class that has some reading time when students get to pick the book they want to read, and then the teacher guides them in a book talk.
“And to see the excitement on the students’ face from when they’re reading the book that they chose is amazing and heart-warming,” she said. The students she saw didn’t want to stop reading, added the principal.
In one instance, a student walked from the front of the room to the back to get to their seat all the while reading their book.
Karshner-Rethmel also witnessed co-teaching, narrative writing, and teachers using “higher-level questioning.” Higher-order questions are those that students cannot answer just by simple regurgitation of information.
High School Principal Matt Unger brought up attendance as one focus there. He said Assistant Principal Samantha Woodruff has been tweeting positive information on why it’s important to be in school.
In addition, students with 70 percent or less attendance are being identified and that information is given to the staff “so they can make some individual relationships and contact with those students and make them feel welcome and get them to school more,” Unger said.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.