Outcome Evidence from Educational Project

Two years back, Belden Elementary School in Canton {OH} City District, engaged Barbara Oehlberg as a consultant to develop an educational project that would guide the school in becoming trauma informed. The principal, Mallory Floyd, was the driving force supported by Susan Ross, Health Services Coordinator for Canton Schools, and Vanessa Stergois, Trauma Consultant for Stark County, OH, Family Court. The title, “Growing the Brain” was chosen for the project which was based on the two books authored by Barbara.

In Jan., 2010, fourteen staff members participated in twenty-one hours of training that included several videos by Bruce D. Perry. The group included four classroom teachers, three Title 1 staff, the guidance counselor, librarian, the literary lead teacher, and three intervention specialists. The primary goal was to increase student self-regulation, stress management, empathy through sensory activities that fit into core curriculum subjects. The major focus has been to create effective learning environments through the recognition by adults that their ability to remain in self-regulation, even during moments of tension, sets a classroom climate that permits students with traumatic stress to sense emotional security, allowing them to learn.

Each classroom was provide with a bean bag chain which was placed in a semi-private area and titled, “The Safe Place”. Students were encouraged to go to “The Safe Place” when they sensed personal distress in order to calm themselves. “The Safe Place”, originated by Dr. Becky Bailey, was supplied with a soft plush animal, a squeeze ball, a notebook for drawing/writing, and a small bottle of water.

The second year of the project, 2010/2011, was joined by three new classroom teachers, along with additional behavior intervention specialists and special education staff.

The good news is that the Ohio Department of Education school report card ranked the school in 2011 as in Continuous improvement, up two levels from the Academic Watch, where it had been since the rankings began, based on the state proficient scores for half the classrooms.


© 2011 Barbara Oehlberg
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