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Field Education Office Professional Development Series

Stacey M Olson04.18.2016

A spark that ignited in an undergraduate Child Advocacy Studies course at USC Upstate has now transitioned into a local adaptation of the National Compassionate Schools Initiative. Stacey Olson, a first year MSW student, is currently undertaking an Independent Study at the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center to examine the existing framework of the Compassionate School Initiative established by Washington State. Under the direction and supervision of Dr. Jennifer Parker and Dr. Lynn McMillan of USC Upstate, and Dr. Naomi Farber with the USC College of Social Work Olson has completed an extensive review of the literature and helped propose a training series for educators in Spartanburg, SC. She says, “The thought of more than half of the children in an average classroom having some form of an adverse event in their life before the age of 18 inspired me to want to share this information with others.”

The Compassionate Schools framework provides a flexible structure that can be adapted to meet the unique needs of each school environment. The aim of the series of trainings is to create a universal understanding school-wide that traumatic event/s (in any form) can be stressful, burdensome, and have an enormous impact on a student’s ability to learn, form relationships, and behave appropriately. The goal is not to identify students who have experienced trauma, but rather to help schools recognize all children need skills of resilience.

Outside the classroom, Olson was also invited to participate on the Spartanburg Compassionate Schools Steering Committee and to be an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Master Trainer for South Carolina by the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.

For this initiative, each Spartanburg school district was offered 20 slots for school staff to attend a summer training workshop developed by the USC Upstate Child Protection Training Center. Participants will learn about the impact of traumatic experiences on a child's behavior and capacity to learn, and how to focus on compassionate responses in the classroom, among other topics.

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