Trauma Informed Schools


Many of the challenging behaviors seen inside classrooms stem from stress or trauma in students’ lives outside of school. Trauma can alter a young person’s brain functions, which impacts learning and behavior. Not only students deal with stress—teachers feel the burden too. Heavy workloads, student needs, and work-life balance are just some of the issues teachers face daily. Using a variety of professional development activities and technical assistance tools, The Village helps schools adopt trauma-informed practices that promote emotional regulation, positive student-teacher relationships, and teacher and staff wellness.


  • Positive school climate
    • Increased attendance
    • Increased academic performance
    • Decreased disciplinary incidents
    • Decreased trauma symptoms

  • Increased knowledge of trauma informed restorative core principles

  • Integration of trauma informed principles into policies, procedures and practices

  • Reduction in students’ trauma symptoms

Connect with us



School assessment and planning


Leadership and teacher professional development


Technical assistance and consultation


Student trauma screening and clinical treatment services

Our expertise

Trauma treatment: Evidence-based practices trained clinicians

School-based services: Community schools, after-school programming, family resource centers, truancy prevention, teen outreach programs and more

Behavioral health counseling at 14 public schools

Professional development delivered to administration, teachers and staff across ten schools

When Students Bring Trauma to School along with their Backpacks

In addition to carrying backpacks and an enthusiasm for learning, students at Rawson Elementary School in Hartford often bring unresolved issues related to traumatic experiences or constant stress.

These issues often erupt in angry outbursts, difficulty focusing, or defying teachers and other authority figures. “Many of our students struggle with issues related to their past, their circumstances or their families,” said principal Dr. Tayarisha Stone. “The ACT Academy helps students find the support they need to remove those barriers so they are able to be successful in school.”

The Aspire-Connect-Thrive (ACT) Academy was created at Rawson School by The Village with national funding from the Office of Minority Health. The ACT Academy aims to address trauma effectively on a school-wide level. Its goal is to strengthen students’ social-emotional competence, ensuring that they have strong, healthy relationships with adults in the school, and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

“The first step is helping the kids to recognize trauma and how it affects their emotions, and giving them the coping skills to address those feelings and resulting behavior,” said Aldwin Allen, The Village’s senior director of community programs.

“The second step is providing professional development for teachers and staff, in-classroom support, and activities that help students and their families understand trauma and build socialemotional skills. And lastly, addressing trauma symptoms effectively through clinical services for students and their families.” 

At its core, ACT is a multi-level trauma intervention, including trauma screening and treatment, mindfulness practices, play therapy, and afterschool and summer programming focused on academic and enrichment activities.

ACT is also a vision for the future.

“This is a five-year research project,” said Donna Ferguson, director of grants and program development at The Village. The data, analyzed by our research partners at UConn, will reveal trends over time and measure the effectiveness of the interventions provided through ACT Academy.

And it’s already working.

“One hundred percent of parents who responded to our schoolwide survey felt that their child has a relationship with a caring adult in school,” said Assistant Principal Evelyn Mendoza Overton. “That’s a huge increase from last year and example of the early impact of the ACT program.”

Trauma is pervasive in our society and can impede a child’s ability to learn. The ACT Academy team (pictured on opposite page with Rawson Principal Tayarisha Stone and Assistant Principal Evelyn Mendoza Overton) works with teachers, school professionals and students to provide them with the tools they need to recognize and address trauma so students can be successful.

“ACT has made me more aware of trauma and given me strategies I can use in the classroom. I see better, stronger relationships here as a result.”

ACT (Aspire, Connect, Thrive) Academy

When kids act out in school, it affects their ability to learn, and that of their classmates. Addressing the root cause of the behavior is far more effective than punishing bad behavior. Trauma — from depression or addiction in the home, neighborhood violence, or the constant stress of poverty — can limit a child’s ability to engage in school. The ACT (Aspire, Connect, Thrive) Academy at Rawson STEAM School in Hartford is helping to address trauma school-wide. ACT provides trauma screening and treatment, play therapy and after school programming for students. Parents learn how to support their children socially, emotionally and academically. And teachers and administrative staff receive support to build a trauma-informed school environment. The goal is to improve students’ resilience, academic performance, healthy behaviors and positive attitude in school and at home.

“When a student’s world is in chaos, learning is not that student’s priority. It is in our best interest as a community to remove those barriers to student success. What I’ve seen The Village do with the ACT Academy at Rawson school demonstrates that we can create trauma-informed school systems and environments that allow each student to pursue their highest potential.”

Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez
Superintendent of Schools, Hartford Public Schools

When Jasan lost his father, it kind of troubled him in school. The ACT Academy helped me to find answers and resources to help him with his behavior at home and school. ACT helped me become a stronger, more patient parent. 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.