Albemarle County Schools “Making Connections” aims to help students with trauma

Albemarle County Schools sign
Albemarle County Schools sign
Published: Oct. 31, 2021 at 9:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - More than 1,000 Albemarle County teachers gathered this week to learn how to better support their students.

Albemarle County goes through a “Making Connections” learning every year, but this year there was a brand new session. The staff felt the need to focus on supporting students who have experienced trauma, mostly, but, not exclusively tied to the pandemic.

“What we recognize is that kids have challenges outside of school and even inside of school,” assistant principal at Western Albemarle High School, Doug Granger said. “One problem would be that we don’t know about those challenges.”

Teachers from different schools across the county are collaborating to find out what those challenges are.

“With us presenting that’s made us better with our understanding of what’s necessary for a child to be successful in school, if he or she is not fully emotionally capable for seven and a half hours a day,” Granger said.

They also work to find how to fix some of these problems. Western Albemarle has a new tool this year.

“A designated area of the school with the designated adult who has experience working with students who struggle in school. We’re hoping to spread our idea and also put it in front of our colleagues to get feedback to make it even better,” Granger.

Teachers were given tips from professionals on how to handle these mental health challenges. The sessions went over how to create a space to talk and share what’s working and what’s not to better the education of students.

“I think it’s been great to also have some experts come in to share about some of the best practices and research based strategies that we know work when when dealing with situations where trauma is involved,” director of Professional Learning, Michael Craddock said.

The lessons learned can now be applied to any school year, not just a COVID one.

“Unfortunately, there is trauma that our students experience, whether it’s pandemic related or not,” Craddock said. “Being able to support them with a lens of empathy and understanding, and then be able to utilize strategies that will work to help get them on on the track of learning.”

Getting back on that track starts now. Those who attended the session say they believe when the kids return to class on Wednesday, teachers will already have some new strategies in their toolboxes and be ready to implement them.

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