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PACEs in Early Childhood

Rebuilding Lives while Building Homes: Tony McGuire's Resilience-Building Carpentry Class

Tony McGuire is a great carpenter. He ran his own construction business for years. Then he wanted to get into teaching. He became a Tenured Faculty member at a local community college, and landed in the state penitentiary as a Basic Skills Carpentry instructor. So how could that be connected to saving lives with a 20 buck investment?

Tony got touched by CRI’s trauma-informed training. He saw himself past and present and knew somehow that, “with this information comes the responsibility to use it," a common phrase used with the trauma movement.

And then he learned about the 52 card deck, a $20 purchase available from CRI.

He connected the dots- and thus the brilliance of his “how I will use this” motto- and saw how he could help prepare the men in his carpentry class for life outside the penitentiary. From his own lived experience, he saw what it would mean if he could build in to his classes, at least the 42 resilience strategies highlighted in the deck of cards (the other 10 represent the ACEs from the original study). He knew from his own life how critical the ability to regulate, recognize and manage emotions, and role model these skills to others was. He had lived this; now he could begin to pay it forward to men whom he knew had missed the opportunity to have these critical life skills built into their development. He also knew it was not too late to get started.

Join Tony as he tells his personal journey on this path we call “trauma-informed care” and “resilience-building."  He shares his stories of witnessing adult men have their own personal “a-ha” moments, in connecting those same dots- recognizing the feeling, connecting it, and pausing the knee-jerk reactive mode to a deep breathing. By teaching “I can handle this” mode, Tony began to save lives.

The story has since grown within the Department of Corrections systems with a request for Tony to share this story, then within the community college system, and finally to the Achieving the Dream conference which is about student success nationally.

So- what does a great carpenter do? He re-builds lives destroyed by trauma. That is even more powerful than building a home.


Tony's story is the first of CRI's newest 5-part series titled "Big Ideas in the Big Room." Stay tuned for the next showcase!

Read more about Tony from ACEsConnection's very own Jane Stevens:

Tony will be presenting at the 2019 Beyond Paper Tigers Conference in Pasco, WA. Click here for session information, or to purchase tickets.


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