Back to School: Teachers learn to deal with trauma

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WESTON, Wis. (WSAW) -- For the next couple of weeks, NewsChannel 7 will be partnering with 'Be Amazing' to talk about ways that teachers, schools and districts are planning to 'be amazing' this school year.

A training session called, 'Teaching, Leading, Learning' is one way that teachers are preparing to help kids deal with trauma that they may have experienced.

"It is possible that 99 percent of your class could have experienced some type of trauma in their life, and learning about the trauma in the children's lives, and what could be done to help these kids is the reason why I come," explained 4th Grade Teacher and attendee, Kathleen Kowalke.

Given the rising number in school shootings and traumas, learning how to prepare and cope for the worst has become the norm.

"What do we say, what do we not want to say to folks, how do we approach someone who we think may be in crisis and help them, because if we don't help folks, we lose them, and we're losing 45,000 a year in this country to suicide," said Keynote Speaker and Pivotal Points organizer Kevin Briggs.

Briggs is a retired sergeant with the California Highway Patrol, who specializes in raising awareness on mental health, crisis management and suicide prevention.

"I was with the California highway patrol for 23 years, and did a lot of work on the Golden Gate Bridge, with folks suffering from mental illness who were contemplating jumping off the bridge," mentioned Briggs. "So, I did a lot of suicide work."

Nowadays, kids look towards their teachers for guidance on scary or upsetting situations, so Briggs thought that holding this talk would be helpful for the new school year.

Community members, law enforcement, and school teachers were in attendance.

Superintendent of the D.C. Everest School District Kristine Gilmore, explained that having this type of knowledge is crucial to help out our the students.

"We need to understand where people come from and maybe some of the issues that they may have going on in their life," Gilmore mentioned. "But teachers really need a support system, with where to find resources, maybe strategies they can use in their own classrooms to really meet the needs of our kids and their families."

Briggs suggested that by using techniques such as active listening, recognizing survival responses, and knowing the risk factors that hopefully teachers can help to prevent more traumatic situations.

"Sometimes it's just important to be a good listener, and to also give opportunities, to open up. because the roll of a teacher is not just to teach, but also to try to make connections," said Briggs.