Minnesota Institute of Trauma Informed Education

In August, I wrote about the Miss Kendra Program that works with all students in schools to identify and calm worries to free their brains for learning.  This tier 1 approach to trauma reduces major behavior issues in schools by 70% or more after three years of implementation.  Suspensions for children and youth decreases as well (  When I wrote in August, I was excited about these outcomes for students and teachers and the difference this trauma program makes in children’s ability to learn.

In the past two years, we have also supported early childhood programs implementing the Conscious Discipline Program.  Similar to the Miss Kendra Program, Conscious Discipline helps teachers see trauma related behaviors and respond in a way that calms the child.  This program is showing good outcomes for our smallest learners and their teachers.

As we begin to emerge from under the global pandemic, I am even more excited about a new body of work being done regarding trauma and children in schools.  The Sauer Family Foundation partnered with the Carolyn Foundation in supporting a new organization called the Minnesota Institute of Trauma Informed Education at the University of St. Thomas.  A recent article in the Star Tribune ( talks about the work this new institute will do with college students preparing to be teachers or school social workers, as well as teachers and social workers currently in classrooms across Minnesota.  Learning about the effects of emotional trauma and concrete ways of handling trauma in children is important for successful teaching and learning.  Beginning in May, the Minnesota Institute of Trauma Informed Education will be an important resource for the education community.

New research about adverse childhood experiences and trauma is happening every day.  Covid-19 required us all to pay attention to trauma in a new way this past year – the trauma of isolation, disruption of routines, not seeing friends, teachers, and extended family.   This new trauma for this generation of children will need to be addressed as children go back to school.  It will look different for each child and each adult, but I am excited that our school personnel will have this resource to help them handle it in concrete ways and create well-being for children in our new normal.

– Colleen O’Keefe