Maria from Dominican Republic

Maria* first came to Park School when she was six years old, having come from a taumatic background. In those early days, she was consistently sent to the office for instances of physically fighting with other students, disrespecting the teacher, or refusing to do her work in class. Despite the efforts of staff, her behaviour continued and everyone was frustrated.

Staff at the school began to receive Trauma Competent Care training, giving them the knowledge and skills to work with kids who are not simply “acting out” but are suffering the effects of trauma. They began to change their approach to dealing with Maria’s problems, realising that she did not know how to express her needs to anyone.

From then on, when Maria was sent to the office, the staff let her sit with them while they worked, engaging her in conversation or asking her to help with projects around the office. The school psychologist helped her learn skills to regulate her emotions in ways that were healthy for her and those around her. This was life-changing knowledge for her.

Soon we noticed that she was sent to the office less frequently, and when she was sent, she calmed down much quicker because she had built relationships of trust with the staff. Today, Maria is doing well in year 3, working hard in the classroom, and making friends. Her dream is to become a school nurse so she can help other children. 

 *Name changed to protect privacy

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