EMU at Lancaster to teach educators to respond to trauma and build resilience in students

A new MA in Education concentration and graduate certificate offered at Eastern Mennonite University at Lancaster will help educators mitigate the effects of trauma and build resilience in their students. Enrollment is now open for courses in the Diverse Needs: Trauma and Resilience in Educational Environments programs. Both the degree program concentration and certificate have been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for ACT 48 professional development credit.

“Trauma is not a new concept, but until recently trauma has not been recognized as part of the daily regular experience of many children and adolescents,” said David Martin, associate director of the Graduate Teacher Education program, EMU at Lancaster. “Acknowledging that educators are uniquely positioned as first responders, this program will enable them to implement a trauma-informed classroom climate by increasing their trauma competence.”

Unlike in other professions that provide therapeutic services to young people on a more individualized level and often with more detailed personal information, educators work with classrooms full of students, all with different backgrounds that include adverse childhood experiences that can result in trauma. Left unaddressed, such experiences and trauma can impact poorer health outcomes later in life – but also the ability to engage with their immediate educational environments and form friendships.

Having informed and equipped educators makes it more likely that “every aspect of education, including instructional delivery and discipline, can help to mitigate trauma and build resilience,” said Meg Sander, who both directs and teaches in the Graduate Teacher Education program at the Harrisonburg, Virginia, campus.

Designed for educators from classroom teachers to school counselors to administrators, course topics include trauma, restoration and resilience; neuroeducation; research in risk and resilience; foundations of restorative justice; and restorative discipline.

In addition, a course on self-care and resilience for educators “fosters self-awareness of signs of burnout, compassion fatigue and secondary traumatic stress,” said Sander, all of which can be “occupational hazards” for anyone working in a school.

For the master’s degree program, four core MA in Education courses are also required, including an action research course.

The MA in Education degree program, accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, is comprised of 15 semester hours of core credits and one of seven 21-24 credit concentrations: literacy/reading specialist, curriculum and instruction, restorative justice in education and diverse needs, which includes trauma and resilience, special education and ESL.

Two Pennsylvania Department of Education certifications are available (reading specialist and ESL) and also a graduate certificate in restorative justice in education.