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Healing Trauma in Schools

Trauma-Responsive Schools

What is trauma-responsive?


Being trauma-responsive is the skillfulness required by the adults in our educational and work settings to integrate our own inside-out work with strategies in order to mitigate our own vicarious trauma and well as decrease the chances of re-traumatizing those we serve, adults and children alike.

What is also key is that we are being trauma-responsive by holding high academic expectations for our students.

Being trauma-responsive builds on the knowledge and skills learned in being trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive.



Trauma, Healing and Equity


And of course, healing and equity must be part of the equation. Learning to be trauma-responsive cannot be done as effectively without exploring equity and how to be more culturally-responsive. 
To that end, as educators, we must educate ourselves from the “inside out.” Then, we must learn classroom and school-wide culture and climate strategies that reflect more equitable, trauma-sensitive practices to reduce classroom referrals and suspension rates and create more love in our schools.


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Here's a helpful handout on setting up a calm area in your classroom or your home for your child to use self-regulation tools and learn skills on how to self-regulate. Remember, this area is NOT used to "punish"—it's used at the option/choice of the child

SAWUBONA: We Bring Belonging

A Trauma-Responsive & Resilience Approach to Healing-Centered Schools

This one-of-a-kind workshop uses educational pedagogy grounded in trauma-informed practices and emotional intelligence strategies with equity at its core. Participants will discover new capacities to improve their own pedagogy and increase outcomes for teaching and learning.

SAWUBONA Description

The equity gap has only widened in schools over the course of the last several months.  Both racial and educational trauma has been further exposed on a systemic level.  We are experiencing a time where BOTH  educators and children have undergone significant amounts of chronic, persistent trauma.  The uncertainty of what returning to school will hold is exacerbating these traumas.  How do we create better conditions now to mitigate the effects of trauma for ourselves and for our students?  How do we welcome our children back into healthy, healing learning spaces?  Whether we are in-person or distance-learning, dynamic equity leaders, Shawn & Tovi, share key concepts of their trauma-responsive approach through an equity lens. They will share a framework full of actionable strategies to help create schools and classrooms designed to thrive when schools reopen…whatever that may look like.


This one-of-a-kind workshop uses educational pedagogy grounded in

trauma-informed practices and emotional intelligence strategies with equity at its core. Participants will discover new capacities to improve their own pedagogy and increase

outcomes for teaching and learning. By the end of the workshop, participants will:

  • understand the interconnectedness of trauma, social emotional learning, and equity

  • understand what trauma is and how it impacts students on cognitive and physiological levels

  • understand the racialized and educational trauma many students of color and their families have experienced

  • learn immediate strategies to create a trauma-informed school and classrooms

  • learn resilience-building tools and strategies to use with students

  • expand their equity lens and increase cultural-responsiveness

Course participants can receive graduate-level professional development credit through Brandman University.

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Schools & Organizations Tr.U.T.H has served
  • Berkeley Graduate School of Education

  • Brentwood Union School District

  • Congregations Homeless

  • Diablo Valley College

  • La Clinica

  • Manteca United School District

  • Mills College

  • Oakland Unified School District

  • Stanford University

  • Travis Unified School District

  • Vacaville Unified School District

  • Victor Elementary School District

Considering bringing us to your school organization? Please keep this in mind:

Until professional learning spaces resume being in person to accommodate large numbers safely, our delivery model is virtual and has been met with great success since April 2020 when we made the transition to virtual professional learning spaces with our content.

This is emotionally heavy content at the outset and then it becomes more technical as we learn the strategies. Because of this, it is highly recommended that there be intentional self-care and spaciousness provided for participants after the training.  We are happy to discuss what this can look like for your context in a way that exemplifies you as a supportive leader in this work for your staff/organization. 

We do not recommend a day-long training unless there is a significant 60 - 90 min break in the middle.  We have found great success in offering SAWUBONA in either two 3-hour sessions or three 2-hour sessions.  These sessions work best when given a few days to a week in between, or even simply spread over two days.  Generally, districts or organizations do the 2 - 3 sessions within about 3 - 6 weeks and it has worked very well.   Again, each context is different and we are happy to work with you on a scheduling format that suits your needs. 

About the Tr.U.T.H-Tellers

Tovi Scruggs-Hussein


Shawn Nealy-Oparah

Both Tovi and Shawn are adjunct professors in the School of Education at Mills College as the founding teachers of the trauma-informed leadership graduate course. From this partnership, they created Tr.U.T.H (Trauma-Informed Understanding for Healing and Transformation). They are passionate about facilitating workshops in trauma-informed leadership, emotional intelligence, and equity all over the country. Shawn and Tovi began this journey of teaching trauma-informed skill-sets to educators 5 years ago, published together, and are honored to contribute their gifts and talents to positively shift the academic landscape for children, their families, and all of the educators who truly love them.

Key Messages


Adults must adaptively change behaviors, assumptions and beliefs.


Praise for BE-ing with Tovi


I felt like it was a safe space to open up and once we got there the message of how trauma effects ourstudents was easier to understand and think about.

Let's Heal Our Schools & Systems with
Conscious, Connected, & Courageous Leaders™

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