Try Not to Add to the Trauma
Claudia Rojas (bio) explains the philosophy behind the Community Health Advocates School, a trauma-informed high school.
The Community Health Advocates School is a trauma-informed school. The reason for that is because we have really adopted this notion that we understand the community where our students are coming from. We understand that they've experienced certain traumas in their life, certain events that were usually out of their control and that have left some sort of impact on them and usually it's not a positive one. So by the time they get to us in high school in 9th through 12th grade, the way that they've coped through some of the experiences that they've had may not always have been the best way or the healthiest way.
So we come with that understanding and we don't try to add to that trauma. We try to work with the students so that instead of pushing them out of school or kicking them out of school or instead of them being the next dropout, it's more, "What kind of a plan are we going to create for you, knowing what you've been through, so that you are successful?"
So that means a whole variety of things. It means what kind of classes do we offer to our students? So we have a pathway that they study from 9th through 12th grade where they're learning about mental and behavioral health. They are learning about the professions that are involved with that. They're going on field trips. They're participating in internships and externships. We're bringing community partners into our campus so that they can not only present to the students, but also work collaboratively with them on projects; research.
Really, it's again hiring staff that understands this about our students, understands the community and the demographics and wants to work with them in a different way.
Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2013 in Santa Monica, CA.