Case Study: Building a trauma-informed public school

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Research has shown that trauma can disrupt cognitive processes that are essential for learning. Instead of allowing students to engage in higher-order, academic thinking, traumatic experiences trap them in their “reptile brain” – the part of the brain that governs basic survival functions like fight or flight.

The field of trauma-informed care offers hope for educators who want to better serve such students.

Led by psychologists Dr. Dan Siegel and Dr. Bruce Perry, the field of trauma-informed care has helped to shift the paradigm about student behavior: instead of asking, “what’s wrong with you?” it asks “What happened to you?” 

Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) is a specific approach to trauma-informed care created by the Karyn Purvis Institute at Texas Christian University. TBRI® is an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children.

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund, as an independent think-and-do tank that pilots and scales research-based practices in public schools, has been supporting principals to learn about and implement trauma-informed care in their schools.


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Watch: How Jacksonville Heights Elementary is becoming a trauma-informed public school




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of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2018-2019.