School district to address trauma issues

By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: Feb. 17, 2020 5:00 pm

HANNIBAL | A program aimed at helping individuals deal with trauma is being launched by the Hannibal School District.

“Hannibal public schools have worked diligently to be at the forefront of trauma support and education,” said Meghan Karr, assistant superintendent with the Hannibal School District.

According to Karr, the school district will be working with the Missouri Academy of Child Trauma Studies to implement the Trauma Informed Programs for Schools (TIPS).

“Over the last couple of years we have researched different programs and supports that would benefit our students, staff and community. We are very excited for the TIPS program,” she said.

TIPS is capable of meeting an assortment of trauma-related issues, Karr said.

“The thing I love about this program is it really meets the needs of the individual, school or district,” she said. “It provides our staff the tools to move forward and support our students and families. There isn't one clear answer or approach. It is very individualized to make the biggest impact.”

TIPS will be effective, regardless of whether the trauma is physical or emotional, according to Karr.

“TIPS really allows for response and support of any trauma,” she said, noting that TIPS should benefit individuals regardless of their age. “Additionally, it helps educate and support staff to put proactive interventions in place to support those in need.”

Karr calls TIPS a “train-the-trainer model.”

“We will have staff teams that will go through intense training and bring it back to the rest of the staff. This will allow staff to be more in tune with signs and symptoms of trauma that may not be as readily noticeable. Additionally, it will allow staff to intervene proactively to help and support our students and families,” she said, adding that each building within the school district will have a team of representatives go through the training. They will then take what they have learned back to their building and train the personnel there.

Karr believes there is a growing need for assistance with trauma.

“I do think that the number of individuals experiencing trauma is growing,” she said. “We are also getting better at helping to identify those that need support and connecting them to resources within our community.”

The Hannibal School District, in partnership with the Hannibal Alliance for Youth Success (HAYS), recently was awarded a $25,000 United Way Substance Abuse Prevention grant.

“We are very grateful to the United Way, Green America and Continental Cement for their visionary grant to support the TIPS program and substance abuse,” Karr said. “We are looking forward to our continued partnership and the positive outcomes we will see.”

Karr explained how the grant funds will be put to use.

“The money will be utilized to provide training for not only Hannibal public schools, but also surrounding districts that have elected to participate,” she said, adding that all five other school districts in the United Way's region in Northeast Missouri have expressed interest in participating in TIPS. “This will set up each district to sustain its program after the initial two-year training.”

During the January meeting of the Hannibal Board of Education, Karr explained that it makes sense involving other local school districts because it will allow them to “have a common language to support our students because so many of our students go between districts.”

“We will have a common language and common approach to support our families so if they move to a different district they will be able to pick up,” she said.

Regarding future funding of TIPS, Karr said the program will be self-sustaining financially after the two-year training period.

“The train-the-trainer model will allow us to continue to implement and move forward using internal resources after our initial two-year start up,” she said.

The success of TIPS locally will be measured through a number of means.

“I think long-term there is data to support success, analyzing disciplinary data, counselor visits, outside agency referrals, etc.,” Karr said. “There is a high correlation between substance abuse and trauma and being able to intervene at a young age allows for long-term changes. Even more so, we will be able to identify the needs more readily and intervene to support students in the community as a whole.”



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