Raleigh, NC (August 22, 2018) – The Public School Forum of NC’s Resilience and Learning Project will expand into six new school districts and continue working in the two 2017 pilot school districts across North Carolina this fall to create safer and more supportive learning environments for students, especially where trauma is prevalent in their student populations. Local school districts where trauma-sensitive learning environments will be newly developed this year include Nash-Rocky Mount, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank, Halifax, Johnston, Greene, and Alamance-Burlington. The Project will also expand to new partner schools in Rowan-Salisbury and Edgecombe, where the work began this past school year.

“We’re pleased to be able to expand this important work beyond our initial pilots in Edgecombe County Schools and Rowan-Salisbury Schools,” said Elizabeth DeKonty, Director, NC Resilience & Learning Project. “The early results from this program, which helps schools better support children dealing with trauma, are promising and we believe this approach to trauma-informed learning inside the school can make an enormous difference for children across North Carolina.”

The NC Resilience and Learning Project is a whole school, whole child framework to create trauma-sensitive schools that will improve academic, behavioral, and social-emotional outcomes for students. During its 2017-18 pilot year, the project worked in three schools in Edgecombe and Rowan-Salisbury school districts; the best practices and insights gleaned during this initial year of programming will inform efforts to develop trauma-sensitive schools in these six new districts beginning this fall.

The NC Resilience and Learning Project will conduct in-school staff trainings that help educators understand trauma’s impact on learning and how to build student resilience by fostering unifying language and expectations to promote a school-wide cultural shift. Trainings will also address how to recognize the neurobiological foundations of students’ disruptive behaviors, and ongoing coaching and technical assistance will be provided throughout the school year to help school teams create action plans around trauma-sensitive strategy implementation. Positive outcomes that have been achieved from similar models in other states include lower suspension and office referral rates and improving attendance and academic achievement.

To support the project’s expansion, the Public School Forum is pleased to announce the hiring of two new regional program coordinators.

Chanda Rook Battle
Edgecombe/Nash-Rocky Mount/Eastern NC

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For most of her career, Chanda has worked in low-performing schools in Eastern North Carolina. Because of these experiences, Chanda is motivated by the desire to create equitable learning environments for at-risk children.

Chandra has worked as a high school English teacher in Herford County and Pitt County Schools and taught Developmental English at Pitt Community College and Durham Technical Community College. She has also worked in the School of Education at North Carolina Central University as a Supplemental Instruction Program Coordinator.

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Relations and Master of Arts in Teaching from East Carolina University and her school administration licensure from North Carolina Central University. Chanda has gone on to serve as a middle and high school assistant principal, as well as a high school principal in Eastern NC.  As a principal, her high school was part of the state’s Restart Initiative. Through this flexibility, Chanda and her staff were able to create a school that utilizes restorative practices, personalized learning, MTSS, and wrap-around services to ensure that all students have access to a supportive learning environment.  She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Educational Leadership, K-12 from East Carolina University where she is continuing to research culturally responsive strategies to help bridge the gaps for youth.

Christy Lockhart
Rowan/Salisbury/Alamance

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Christy has worked as a School Social Worker for multiple schools in the Rowan-Salisbury School System, and as a licensed clinical social worker associate at Nazareth Child and Family connection, providing outpatient services for adolescents. She has vast experience working in public schools as well as experience in child advocacy, program development, crisis intervention, and community engagement. Christy holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor’s in social work from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She is passionate about working in high poverty schools as a trainer and a coach advocating for environments where students feel physically and emotionally safe so they are better able to focus on learning.

Support for the NC Resilience and Learning Project is provided by our generous funders, including the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, The Belk Foundation, The ChildTrust Foundation, and the Rowan-Salisbury School System.

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About the Public School Forum of North Carolina

Since 1986, the Public School Forum of North Carolina has been an indispensable and nonpartisan champion of better schools and the most trusted source in the state for research and analysis on vital education issues. We bring together leaders from business, education and government to study education issues, develop ideas, seek consensus, and ultimately inform and shape education policy. We do that through research, policy work, innovative programs, advocacy, and continuing education for educators and policymakers. Follow us on Twitter @theNCForum and visit our website at http://www.ncforum.org/

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