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Childhood trauma harms kids. Can schools help fix the damage?

Domestic violence. Sexual abuse. An incarcerated parent.

Some students bring these experiences to school each day, lodged in their brain like textbooks in a backpack. Research shows that these childhood experiences negatively affect physical, social, emotional and academic health into adulthood.

It’s time for schools to embrace that, a former principal told a group of Yellowstone County educators, and to build it into the foundation of their schools.

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Snohomish County group seeks to lower student expulsion rates

Jim Sporleder, former principal at Walla Walla’s Lincoln High School, shows strong emotion while describing how engaging with troubled kids rather than expelling them led to a dramatic turnaround at the school. Everett’s Sequoia High School Principal Kelly Shepherd (right) and others joined Sporleder in a panel discussion Tuesday night at the Historic Everett Theatre. The documentary “Paper Tigers,” filmed at Lincoln High School, was shown as part of the program.

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Suspension Rates at a Washington School Drop 85%: Does Kindness Play a Role?

If you haven’t heard about Jim Sporleder, high school principal at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, Washington, you soon will. Lincoln High is an alternative school — a school of last resort some might say — where many of the students have come from other schools where they had been expelled. A high proportion of the students have had Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), traumatic events involving emotional, physical or sexual abuse. Despite these situations, Sporleder and his staff achieved an 85% drop in the suspension rate at Lincoln High.

They didn’t lower suspension rates by administering sedatives, threatening expulsion, or bringing in a wrestler with muscles the size of Seattle. His staff didn’t hire a police task force or military recruiters.

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All In The Family, Part 1

Cardio-vascular disease. Obesity. Alcoholism. Diabetes. These conditions may have one surprising factor in common: childhood trauma — according to a massive study called “Adverse Childhood Experiences”, or ACE.  In part one of this series, a version of which was first broadcast in 2011, IDEAS producer Mary O’Connell explores the ACE study and how its findings are being integrated into medical practice today.

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Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%

THE FIRST TIME THAT principal Jim Sporleder tried the New Approach to Student Discipline at Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, he was blown away. Because it worked.

In fact, it worked so well that he never went back to the Old Approach to Student Discipline.

This is how it went down: A student blows up at a teacher, drops the F-bomb. The usual approach at Lincoln – and, safe to say, at most high schools in this country – is automatic suspension.

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