It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that I have accepted the position at PACEsConnection as their full time Trauma-Informed Education Consultant. I have been with PACEsConnection since 2018 in the role of Community Facilitator, supporting cross-sector resilience initiatives in Southern California, managing the PACEs in Education site, and tending to education related topics as time allowed. The dream has always been, even before I started working here in an official role, to have someone be able to focus on education related issues for the organization full time. That dream has now been realized. Schools and the education system as a whole are so central to the lives of families and communities, it is a vital area of focus. If we want communities to be healthy, resilient, healing, and trauma-informed spaces then our schools must be as well.
My personal ‘why’, my passion, has always been education. More specifically disrupting our current system and building a humanizing and human-centered education system where all feel safe physically, psychologically, and emotionally. An environment and culture where all are valued, seen, loved, and heard. A place where adults and youth feel a deep sense of belonging and connection. It is these values and vision for schools that I bring to my work here at PACEsConnection. I had the very fortunate experience to attend a public school that embodied these values as well as to teach in a similar environment. I have championed these ideals in every education space I have worked in and will continue to do so. I wrote more about my experience in education both as a student and a teacher in a previous blog.
Along with my experiences as a student and a teacher in what we would identify as ‘trauma-informed’ schools I bring decades of experience in school environments at the local, state and national level. I have worked at the state level, in charge of homeless education and school improvement in Wisconsin. I have worked in the non-profit sector guiding school transformation and developing community schools in Los Angeles. All of these experiences inform my current efforts to guide the national conversation.
Public schools are a uniquely unifying experience in the United States, and much of the developed world. It is an experience that most people have had, whether positive or negative. As laid bare by the pandemic schools are often the center of support for families, providing safe spaces during and after the school day allowing parents to work, providing access to food, and linkages to health and mental health care. Schools have the power to be the great equalizer, the champion of equity and justice, the center of community, the foundation of our democracy. Too often they have been retraumatizing and trauma-inducing institutions, perpetuating injustice, and symbolizing hurt and harm. Think of all of our movie tropes about the pain inflicted by being in school. So as the saying goes “with great power comes great responsibility”, with the amazing potential and power schools have to transform lives and communities we must rise to this responsibility collectively.
Our mission at PACEsConnection is ‘A resilient world where all people thrive’, and so it is as well with education- a resilient education system where all people thrive. I welcome your participation, your thoughts and ideas, this has to be a collective effort. I am truly excited about where this adventure will take us.