Penn State Berks presents seminar on trauma for school practitioners

August 19, 2021

The Penn State Berks elementary and early childhood education degree program is hosting a free day-long seminar titled “Issues of Trauma: Empowering School Practitioners” to address the dynamic issues of trauma facing schools as students return to classrooms. This seminar is free and open to the public, and attendees can choose to attend in-person or virtually through Zoom. All attendees must register in advance and those attending virtually will receive the Zoom link via email. Light refreshments and lunch will be provided to in-person attendees.

The event will be held at Penn State Berks in the Gaige Technology and Business Innovation Building, room 121. Registration for in-person attendees begins at 8:30 a.m. 

"Why a webinar/seminar now?" 9 a.m.

Jayne Leh, associate professor of special education and chair of the elementary and early childhood education at Penn State Berks

In this first session, Leh will offer a grounding for the seminar and establish a focus and purpose for the presentations. She will centralize the day’s discussions with regard to issues of trauma by reviewing current circumstances that have necessitated the need for this seminar and will give clarity to the intentions of the seminar while anchoring the theme firmly in the current needs of children in our world today.   

"The Effects of Adverse Experiences on Learning and Development," 10 a.m.

Carlo Panlilio, assistant professor in the department of educational psychology, counseling, and special education and a faculty member with the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network at Penn State University Park campus

Panlilio will discuss the ways that early adverse experiences often lead to cascading effects resulting in subsequent vulnerabilities, including developmental delays, disabilities, and learning challenges. He will provide a framework for understanding how development and learning proceed for children with early experiences of adversity and he will discuss the impact of early maltreatment and disability on self-regulation and self-regulated learning processes. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of implications for practice in relation to early intervention, educational access, and inclusive classrooms.

Panel Discussion on supporting students who have experienced trauma, 11 a.m.

––Lori McGarry, education program specialist with the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Initiative, Penn State University Park campus; previously social studies teacher, Delta Program in State College, Pennsylvania;

––Dara Hass, English teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida; and

––Kate van Haren, elementary school teacher at Pittsville Elementary School in Pittsville, Wisconsin.

"Introduction to Trauma-Informed Approaches in Schools," 1 p.m.

Dana Milakovic, mental wellness specialist with the Office for Safe Schools, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE)

Milakovic will introduce the five core trauma-informed care values for Pennsylvania schools as defined by the PDE and discuss how an intentional focus on equitable trauma-informed approaches can help build positive learning environments that support students and staff in growing, healing, learning and teaching. 

"Managing Social-Emotional Health and Wellbeing of Teachers and Students," 2 p.m.

Dr. Janine York, RPT-S licensed clinical psychologist, registered play therapist supervisor, and National Health Service psychologist

This presentation will review aspects of social-emotional health and the importance of understanding how stress, anxiety and trauma impact physical and emotional wellbeing. Participants will learn about the importance of relationships within their own lives and the importance of forming relationships with their students, as well as strategies that they will immediately be able to use to help manage stress and anxiety in themselves and their students.

Peace4Tarpon, a model trauma-informed community program, 3 p.m.

––Elaine Meils, lecturer and student teaching supervisor in the elementary and early childhood education degree program at Penn State Berks; and

––Robin Saenger, founding director of Peace4Tarpon.

Meils and Saenger will discuss Peace4Tarpon, a Trauma-Informed and Resilience-Building Initiative, which made Tarpon Springs, Florida the first trauma-informed community in the nation. They will share information about how this model program, which was implemented to support students and families with trauma-informed practices within the school community, was an integral piece of the response to trauma in the school environment.  

The day long seminar will conclude with closing remarks by Leh, who coordinated the event. When asked about the purpose of the day-long seminar, Leh states, “Our country has been ravaged by multiple deeply concerning issues in the last year that have contributed to a sharp increase in mental health issues in children and young adults. Many teachers feel unprepared to manage the concerns associated with returning to school and addressing the issues resulting from trauma such as social, emotional, and academic problems. If you are a service provider, administrator, teacher or work with children and young adults in any way, you are encouraged to join us.” 

For more information on the seminar, contact Leh at jml53@psu.edu.

Last Updated August 25, 2021