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North Star launches trauma training for district, hails staff

The Catalyst Action Team at North Star School District surprised the faculty and staff Wednesday with announcement of the Trauma-Skilled Schools Model for the upcoming year.

“This program allows the entire staff to be trained on the signs of trauma,” Director of Special Education and CAT team member Suzie St. Clair said.

The high school was named the key building site, and professional development will begin there this fall, before progressing to the middle school and elementary throughout the next few years.

Instruction will feature the model’s five-step plan: knowledge, building resilience, skill acquisition, assessment and implementation, and maintenance and validation. The CAT team members, two representatives from each building, will assist with the rollout, along with Appalachia Intermediate Unit 8 and National Dropout Prevention Center.

Some of the main goals of the trauma-skills model are to create a safe and fun school environment and decrease student dropouts, leaders said.

St. Clair said North Star has had bad years with dropouts, but implementation of the program is the result of an attendance issue.

Faculty and staff were treated to a video presentation of the program Wednesday in the high school auditorium that provided background on the initiative.

A key part of the video was showing what the district already does that aligns with the training, such as the PAWS program in the elementary, “calm-down kits” at the middle school and hallway monitors in the high school.

“Obviously, we have a great team, and we have a great start to the program,” Superintendent Louis Lepley said.

Melissa Garman, director of curriculum data and federal programs, added that she thought the event was a culmination of the connection the district has with its community.

“From K though 12, we are student- centered with support of the whole child,” she said.

But Wednesday’s event wasn’t just to announce the launch of the trauma model.

It was also a chance for the faculty and staff to celebrate the end of the school year.

Each employee received a bag of goodies that contained a CAT T-shirt, food voucher, scavenger-hunt map, basket raffle tickets and present ticket.

At the end of the presentation, they were invited to participate in the planned activities and journey to the football field for a group photo.

“It’s a great way to finish a difficult year,” Lepley said, “and end on a positive note.”