Dixon schools partner with Florissa to help children with trauma

DIXON – Two Dixon elementary schools partnered with the Florissa Pediatric Development Center to help at-risk children with trauma.

At the beginning of the school year, Washington and Madison elementary schools worked with Florissa, a division of Kreider Services Inc., to develop a three-year intervention program called Collaborative Learning for Educational Achievement and Resilience, or CLEAR.

CLEAR is an intervention program for students who have experienced adverse childhood experiences and the stress and developmental challenges that result from those early life experiences. It has been established at more than 50 schools and early learning programs across the country, and it provides a coaching model for schools with ongoing training and consultation to staff.

“CLEAR is different from other school-based interventions in that a clinical expert is embedded within the school staff and becomes one of the staff consulting and helping teachers and paraprofessionals meet all student needs,” Madison Principal Joey Sagel said.

The Dixon School District started sending groups of staff members including administrators, teachers, counselors, social workers, and paraprofessionals to professional development trainings on trauma a few years ago.

Those trainings led to the development of a District Trauma Committee, which eventually identified CLEAR as a school-based intervention that would ultimately help the district integrate trauma-informed practices sensitive to students’ needs into the school environment.

CLEAR is designed to support learning outcomes for all students as well as meet the needs of the most vulnerable students who may experience behavioral, academic, social, and emotional challenges.

Florissa staff is receiving training from the Child and Family Research Unit of Washington State University to become a CLEAR regional partner center through a National Child Traumatic Stress Network grant.

Child psychologist Elizabeth Cunningham began her work at Washington and Madison this year, where she provides on-site coaching and consultation training for two days per month at each school.

Washington Principal Jeff Gould said they have already seen positive results.

“Dr. Cunningham has not only been educating Washington staff on recognizing trauma but how to appropriately respond to students experiencing trauma. How to appropriately respond to these events is what our staff members thirsted for. Dr. Cunningham has attended teaming meetings to discuss student issues and has provided substantive changes that have netted positive results in our students’ day-to-day educational program.”

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.