On Wednesday, two SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) consultants visited Woodward Academy campus for the day to provide feedback regarding trauma-informed care practices and implementing strength-based services to students. Members from Clarinda Academy and Woodward Community-Based Services also attended the training. For those who scheduled it, little was known of what to expect from the consultants but at the end of the training, every member gained valuable information from this experience. Read more after the jump.
We were introduced to Raul Almazar, a senior consultant, and William Kellibrew, a consultant, trauma survivor, and former teenage resident at various placements much like Woodward Academy. Raul and William started the day with the team by engaging students in focus groups, allowing them to better understand Woodward Academy programming ranging from the Knights Club all the way to learning more about the daily life of a student here. Raul and William saw students discussed their positive and optimistic views of the program and they described the students talking openly about the opportunities that they are given here and how they look forward to going home and following their goals and ambitions.
Next, Raul trained Academy staff regarding the brain’s response to trauma and how the brain functions during high stress situations; information that is very relevant for daily interactions. William spoke to staff on campus about the importance of engaging students as soon as possible about their values, saying that once staff and students are on the same page about their biggest form of motivation, students can continue to strive to make better choices. Raul and William even engaged a group of staff members for a staff focus group, allowing those involved to continue discussing the many strengths of our program and how we are already enacting many trauma-informed care practices which are woven into our program fabric. At the end of the day, William told his story in an assembly with all students on campus. They were able to listen to his experiences that include witnessing the murder of his mother and brother. The WA students were engaged and touched by his story and it allowed many to reflect on their own experiences and choices.
This training allowed WA staff to get a better grasp of how to continue to work with students who have experienced trauma in their life. We’d like to extend a thank you to both Raul and William for coming to campus and for the insight they passed on.