Hiring and Professional Development Practices of a Trauma-Informed School
Claudia Rojas (bio) describes the hiring process and professional development at the Community Health Advocates School, a trauma-informed high school.
In terms of hiring, we have a hiring committee, which involves myself and teachers that are interested in having the opportunity to select who's going to fill vacancies. Also, what I think makes us really unique is we also include the other two principals and/or staff members from their schools, from the other schools that are here on this campus. The reason we do that is because although again we have a heavy focus in our own school, we also realize we're one Hawkins High School and so we want to make sure that whoever comes onboard not only is a good fit for the Community Health Advocates School, but for the other two schools on campus. So that makes us a little unique from the way other schools work.
What will happen when we have a vacancy is obviously we'll screen applicants and then we take them through our interview process, which is a panel interview, and then we give them a few prompts to answer and as much as possible we also try to see a sample lesson or tell us some real life experience working with students. At that point if we feel that they're a good fit for our mission of vision and also for the needs of our students, they come onboard. Almost immediately, they are thrust into our professional development program.
Part of the — we call it PD [professional development] — part of the PD that we did over the summer was around restorative justice, around a program called Equity and Access, which is when I'm teaching in the classroom, how do I make sure that every student has a voice and that every student is participating and that it's not just me in the front lecturing, but that there's a collaborative spirit in the classroom?
We also did trainings with Linked Learning, which is also a new endeavor that we started this year, where we're really trying to bring the work sector to meet the academic needs of our students. So giving them real hands-on experience around what does it mean to be a social worker or a counselor or a therapist.
What's really exciting for me is strategically planning what the Community Health Advocates School is going to look like three years from now and then working backwards. So if this is our end goal, what do we need to do to get there. Then again doing a needs assessment with our teachers and finding out these are the areas that we need to grow in still. So we develop our professional development calendar based on the needs that our teachers have.
Then not only do they decide these are the topics we'd like to focus on, but then they also help run the professional development. So it's not always just me giving them all the knowledge because I certainly don't have it all. There are so many experts among us and we love to highlight them and say, "This is what your next door neighbor is doing at school. How can we make that more of a common practice in our school?"
Excerpted from an interview at CBITS Summit 2013 in Santa Monica, CA.