Featured Fellow: Trauma-Responsive, Healing Practices with Pamela Reed, Director of Equity and Inclusion in the Rutland City Public School District

By Michelle Hull, CEI Intern

Pamela Reed, an educator who has worn many hats during her 13 years of service in the Rutland City Public School system, has transformed the district’s posture towards trauma-skilled practices in the classroom. As a former special educator and classroom teacher at Shrewsbury Mountain School and Rutland’s Northwest Primary School, Director of Student Services for Rutland Central Supervisory Union, and Associate Principal at Rutland High School, she has tirelessly committed herself to bettering Rutland, Vermont’s educational offerings. In her current role as the Director of Equity and Inclusion for the Rutland City Public School District, she facilitates professional development for educators in all five of the district schools. She strives for “everyone working with kids to have a common understanding of trauma-skilled practices and an integration of strategies to ensure that each student receives the educational program that’s best for them.” 

Rutland Intermediate School

The S-CCATE and Compassionate Transformational Change

To achieve this goal, the schools within the Rutland City Public School District administered the S-CCATE (School Compassionate Culture Analytical Tool for Educators), the Center for Educational Improvement’s assessment to “guide teams of educators and whole school communities through the process of compassionate transformational change.” This assessment helped the school staff gauge each teacher’s baseline knowledge about trauma-skilled teaching practices.

After reviewing S-CCATE results, school administrators shared the findings with each building’s teacher leaders and other staff. The teachers were encouraged to set a professional goal for the 2019-2020 school year that focused on trauma-informed teaching strategies. Given the challenges of distance learning, the timeline for achieving this goal shifted to the end of the 2021 school year. To ensure that each teacher received maximum support, their progress was monitored by a supervisor at the school. Each teacher was asked to choose a professional goal from a list that included items such as the following:

  • demonstrating an understanding of trauma and its impact on student learning
  • implementing strategies that improve time on tasks and student outcomes
  • creating tools and resources for the school community, mentoring beginning level teachers, leading faculty meeting(s), teaching a course
  • implementing and modeling strategies that build resilience within the school community and help individuals take a healthy approach to coping with, reframing, and problem solving stress
  • while working with students in a remote format, implementing trauma-informed strategies that build connectedness and resilience to encourage student participation in lessons and ensure that students are making progress towards the school’s academic standards

Thanks to Pam’s work, this list outlines ways for teachers to engage in practical, sustained work during the 2020-2021 school year.

Professional Development

Trauma-informed education is not only prioritized in individual professional development, it is centered during grade level faculty meetings. Once a month during the 2019-2020 school year, meetings were dedicated to trauma-responsive educational strategy development. Rotating teachers led the meetings, which provided an opportunity for them to synthesize their knowledge about trauma-informed teaching and share it with their colleagues. Throughout the year, educators gave presentations on emotional regulation, mindfulness, the impact of childhood trauma on neurology, and relationship building. These topics provided a helpful foundation for educators new to trauma-responsive, healing practices.

In collaboration with community partners, Rutland City Public Schools offered workshops for all teachers to further their knowledge of trauma-skilled practices. The district brought in a myriad of stakeholders to facilitate the workshops, including school psychologists, principals, and teacher leaders. These partnerships exemplify the importance of collaboration as schools strive for compassionate transformational change. By prioritizing strategic partnerships, schools are able to leverage community resources and catalyze change beyond the district.

A photo captured when Rutland High School was named a National Unified Champion School by ESPN in 2019

C-TLC Fellowship

Pam’s leadership while guiding the Rutland City Public School District towards becoming a compassionate community is grounded in her work with the Childhood-Trauma Learning Collaborative. When describing her fellowship experience, she said that it was “supportive, comprehensive, fulfilling, and action-driven.” Given Pam’s work in her community, it is clear that she is reflecting those values back to the Rutland City Public School District through her ongoing efforts to put  trauma-responsive, healing practices front and center.

Click here, for more information on the C-TLC Fellowship Program. We are currently accepting Fellowship applications for the 2020-2021 school year.

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