Trinity County Office of Education
Sarah Supahan – County Superintendent of Schools
www.tcoek12.org • (530) 623-2861
The R.I.S.E. of a Trauma-Informed School in Trinity County
Trauma-related experiences occur across all racial, economic, and cultural groups yet the way these experiences show up in school, and the way they are responded to, vary greatly. In a national survey of 95,677 children (eighteen years old and younger) from all economic levels and ethnic backgrounds, 46 percent experienced at least one “adverse childhood experience” also referred to as “ACE”. National databases suggest that 26 percent of children in the United States will witness or experience a traumatic event before the age of four. Trauma can occur from a natural disaster, abuse, neglect, or from experiencing or witnessing violence, among other things.
A child's brain can actually change as a result of traumatic stress. These changes can harm children's ability to be attentive in school, to express their emotions in appropriate ways, to trust adults, and to form positive relationships with teachers and other students. However, with the right support, students can heal from trauma. With the right training, teachers can work with children in ways that help them move beyond past traumas so that they can be successful in school. A trauma-sensitive approach begins with recognizing that many students enter our school system with behaviors that can prevent them from learning. In a trauma-informed school, educators use specific “trauma-informed” strategies that help students feel safe and cared for, and are focused on the individual needs of each student. The idea is not, “What’s wrong with that student”; instead school staff are trained to embrace the idea that something traumatic happened to that student.
The Trinity County Office of Education’s R.I.S.E. Academy (Restoring Individual Success in Education) is a trauma-informed school - and was named by its own students - which supports each student’s individual needs and their health and well-being, including those who have experienced trauma. It is led by a school principal/teacher who has been highly trained in trauma-informed practices, Mr. Steve Hiscock. Hiscock and his staff have developed a culture of caring and support for each student, with individualized learning focused on the social and emotional needs of each student. At R.I.S.E. Academy, all aspects of the educational environment, from academics, to workforce training, to engagement with students and families, to procedures and policies, are grounded in an understanding of trauma and its impact, and are designed to promote resilience and healing of trauma for all students who attend. R.I.S.E. was created just two years ago based on the recognized needs in our county.
Students can be recommended to attend R.I.S.E. Academy through their own district, through Trinity County Probation, and in some instances, through their parents/guardians. R.I.S.E. student numbers are kept to a minimum which is appropriate for the type of school. The school is not for everyone, however, so there is a rigorous process to determine if the school is a good fit for each student who has been recommended. All nine districts in the county can recommend a student to attend R.I.S.E.. All Students who attend have the ultimate goal of returning to their original school with new coping skills and learning strategies.