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Collaborating with experts to support schools and deliver professional development, ensuring the success of all students.

VT-HEC Addresses Trauma & Anxiety in Schools

How can schools respond to what seems like an epidemic of students affected by serious trauma and anxiety? 

The VT-HEC has made a commitment to support educators, administrators and others who work with students who have been impacted by trauma and anxiety.  Whether it is general introduction to the effects of trauma/anxiety, developing programs for specific students or building the capacity of schools’ MTSS, the VT-HEC has been developing coordinated learning opportunities and supports to help schools move forward to best respond to the needs of these students.

There are many introductions available on the impact of trauma and anxiety and the strategies that can help address them, but the VT-HEC is committed to going further and deeper developing an array of learning opportunities supporting the application of the most effective strategies and creating robust in-school expertise. Working with the Northeast Family Institute (NFI) and experts like Paul Foxman, Jon Udis, Joelle Van Lent, Gillian Boudreau and Lynn Lyons, we are planning a coordinated series of workshops, courses and other supports to continue over the next few years.

So far these plans have included:

Spring 2017

Developmental Trauma and Trauma-Informed Schools: Transforming Knowledge to Action In partnership with the Northeast Family Institute (NFI), the VT-HEC kicked off this new series with NFI’s David Melnick presenting a workshop on February 16, 2017 in Montpelier, VT attended by over 80 participants.  The workshop could be taken as part of a graduate course entitledDevelopmental Trauma and Trauma-Informed Schools: Theory, Practice, and Implementation.  This course, taken by 28 students, was the first in what is planned to be a series of courses that will support school personnel as they work to apply the principles of Trauma-Informed Schools.

Fall 2017 

Developmental Trauma and Trauma-Informed Schools: Transforming Knowledge to Action, with David Melnick, LICSW, in Rutland, VT ~ Over 80 educators and others participated in two workshop days while 30 folks attended the three additional dates for the level I graduate course. The workshops gave participants a firm foundation in the basics and the optional course took participants deeper into planning and implementation of these strategies in each of their school settings.

Power Struggles: What to do When a Student Says, “Make Me!”  65 educators and others worked with Jon Udis in Killington, VT on 11/8. Jon shared both what not to do and the strategies that work to de-escalate the situation and get students back on track. Participants left with an overall plan of action including being prepared for the next confrontation. 

Spring 2018 

Fostering Resilient Learners: Creating Trauma Sensitive School Communities, with Joelle van Lent, Psy.D, and Gillian Boudreau, Ph.D., in Montpelier, VT ~ Four workshop days (1/18, 2/16, 3/16, 4/12) with an additional date (5/17) for the 3-credit optional graduate course. 86 people attended the first workshop with 30 signed up for the course. Day 1 focused on the basics of the impact of trauma on kids’ ability to form relationships. The remaining workshops will address building resilience utilizing mindfulness and other strategies. These offerings will put participants and their schools on track to support students impacted by trauma within their classrooms & MTSS.

Managing Anxiety in the Classroom, Paul Foxman, Ph.D., in Montpelier, VT (1/26) Daily headlines and events over the recent past have only added to the many sources of anxiety that are putting more and more kids in the situation of trying to deal with chronic and serious anxiety without the supports or tools to help. Over 100 participants are registered to hear Paul help them recognize the symptoms of anxiety and begin to develop strategies to help students cope and succeed.

Level 2 Course – Trauma Transforming Schools: Advanced Skills and Systems Change Dave Melnick and VT-HEC partnered to develop this 2nd level course for educators who completed the level 1 course. This course focuses on the application of the principles of trauma-informed schools.

Fall 2018 

SAVE THE DATE – Managing Anxiety in a School Setting – Lynn Lyons LICSW– – October 10-11, Stoweflake Resort, Stowe, VT –  Lynn has been featured on NPR’s On Point, NY Times Magazine, Time Magazine as well as her own books and publications. In these workshops, Lynn explores concrete and often counter-intuitive strategies that normalize worry for families and provide an “umbrella approach” that is applicable to all of the anxiety disorders.

These workshops will demonstrate HOW to interrupt anxiety and OCD’s cognitive patterns with simple, process-based strategies that challenge the use of strategies that inadvertently support avoidance of anxious symptoms. There will be an option to receive extended implementation support from Lynn through interactive video seminars.

On the Drawing Board – Encore offerings of our Level I & II courses plus workshops focused on trauma and young children, autism/developmental disabilities, mindfulness and more.

Go to for more information & registration. 

Dennis has been the Director of the the VT-HEC since it was founded in 2000. He spent 16 years at the VT-DOE as Director of teams with various names that included: special education, Title I, health and wellness and other family and education support services. Prior to that Dennis worked at the Barre Town School (VT) starting as a special educator and serving many years as the Director of Student Support Services. He also spent 6 years as a classroom teacher grades 5-8 in NJ.

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