When Jasan, a third-grader at Sarah J. Rawson school in Hartford, lost his father, he started displaying troubling behaviors in school.
“Running out of the class, talking back. I would be angry all the time, but then I would feel bad,” Jasan said.
His mother, Brianna, said the school “would call me sometimes more than three times a day. I tried to talk to him, ask him what’s going on, but he was distancing himself.”
Then she enrolled Jasan in The Village’s ACT (Aspire, Connect, Thrive) Academy, a trauma intervention program at Rawson.
“It’s really important the individualized approach we take with students in our ACT Academy,” said Trisila Tirado, the program director. “Every student has their own story.”
The program aims to address the root causes of students’ behavior issues and lack of engagement in school. The root cause is often trauma – from things like depression or addiction in the home, neighborhood violence, or the constant stress of poverty.
ACT is helping to address trauma on a school-wide basis by providing services for students, parents, teachers and other school staff. For students, ACT provides trauma screening and treatment, play therapy, afterschool and summer programming. Parents learn how to support their children socially, emotionally and academically. And teachers and administrative staff receive support and training to build a trauma-informed school environment.
The goal is to increase students’ resilience to overcome life’s challenges, improve academic performance, adopt healthy behaviors and maintain a positive attitude in school and at home.
For Jasan and Brianna, it’s working.
“I feel better, said Jasan. “I get better grades. If my dad was here he would have been impressed.”
“ACT helped me become a stronger, more patient parent,” said Brianna. “It helped Jasan change his behavior – he’s more respectful now to the teachers and students. If Jasan wasn’t a part of ACT, I really wouldn’t know what option I would have out there.”