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in the classroom

by special contributor Susan Delaney, Texas Southern University

Book review: Reclaiming School in the Aftermath of Trauma Beyond psychological first aid, how educators can help their students—and themselves—adjust to life after disaster

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fter a traumatic event such as the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School and Columbine High School shootings, or a natural disaster such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2012 Oklahoma tornadoes, counselors, psychologists and social workers visit schools to provide support and guidance. These professionals are trained in the basics of trauma recovery—and some even specialize in trauma/crisis response—but all of them go in, provide psychological first aid and then depart. For the students and faculty involved in these tragedies, the consequences of the trauma far outlast the emergency services. It then becomes the role of educators to manage their own trauma reactions, as well as to find homeostasis and move their students, schools and communities forward. However, educators generally do not receive training in trauma response, let alone trauma recovery. After the fact, many are left wondering how to face the trials of a school-based traumatic event. Reclaiming School in the Aftermath of

Trauma: Advice Based on Experience, edited by Dr. Carolyn Lunsford Mears, attempts to address the challenges faced by school administrators and teachers following crisis situations. Mears has created an excellent resource for educators to use to: ▸ Understand that crisis management planning is essential. ▸ Discover weak areas in current crisis plans. ▸ Receive practical ideas to move beyond traumatic events. The text is focused on the needs of educators, rather than the needs of academics or scholars, and is composed of an anthology of essays by campus-based trauma survivors. The essays provide advice on how to adjust to life after a trauma from those who know: educators who have lived through horrific conditions with their students and communities and have somehow emerged to effectively share their pain and experiences. The stories of campus tragedies vary in nature from violence to natural disaster to accident. Each composition offers practical

advice on how to work with students living with the effects of trauma, schools affected by infrastructure failure or communities in mourning. Adding to her credibility, Mears, also the author of several chapters, suffered trauma herself after her son survived the mass shooting at Columbine High School. She draws on it, though she doesn’t let it narrow the focus of the book. Mears notes that her family’s experience ignited a desire to become knowledgeable of both manners in which people cope

Susan Delaney, LPC-I, is a doctoral student in counseling education at Texas Southern University in Houston. Her research and counseling interests include adolescents, crisis counseling and school violence.

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