University of Vermont

The Center on Disability and Community Inclusion (CDCI)

BEST: Building Effective Support For Teaching Students With Behavioral Challenges

A Running PersonBEST/MTSS Summer Institute 2015


Creating a Trauma-informed Learning Environment

Kym Asam and Dave Melnick


Trauma is often thought of as a single incident event that can result in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, many youth in Vermont schools are exposed to chronic and protracted traumatic events that can derail their development across multiple domains.  These impact areas are often referred to as the “7 Domains of Impairment.” In this interactive workshop, participants will examine each of these domains and how they affect students, families and the school community.  Utilizing research and frameworks developed by experts in the field of developmental trauma, participants will learn not only the neurobiological implications of protracted exposure to traumatic stress but practical strategies that align with  many school climate initiatives in order to work effectively with students who are impacted by trauma.

Strand Goals/Objectives:

1. Building on principles from the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support, participants will learn an integrated set of skills from evidenced-based practices and frameworks including the Attachment, self-Regulation and Competency (ARC) model, the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) and the Six Elements of the Flexible Framework for creating a trauma informed learning environment.  Among the skills taught will be the ability:

  • For professionals to self-monitor, attune and “feel and deal”,
  • To co-regulate affect,
  • To evaluate and address the mental states of students, and
  • To create caring communities where all students can learn and grow
  • 2. Participants will learn school-wide, classroom, group and individual implementation strategies that can be tailored to their unique educational environments.  Successful implementation depends on strong leadership, communication, a collective vision and effective collaboration within the school community. 

    3. The success of trauma-informed practices in a school setting depends on the integration of efforts from teachers, staff, administration, families and other professionals (e.g. OT/PT/SLP, mental health, health, law enforcement etc.). Participants will begin to develop implementation plans that will align with current school improvement goals that address climate as well as social and emotional functioning.

    4. The result of the previous stated objectives is to increase the confidence of participants, decrease behavioral challenges and the attendant adult fatigue, and improve the quality of educational practices and a sense of safety within the school.


    Check back after May 1st.


    Kym AsamKym Asam is the Regional Director of Schools and Clinical Programming for NFI Vermont.  She earned her Master’s degree from the University of Hawaii’s School of Social Work and is a Vermont Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW).  She has practiced since 1992 and in addition to direct work with clients, providing clinical supervision to multiple staff and consultation to schools on complicated emotional and behavioral student needs, Kym has developed and conducted numerous trainings for school personnel, both in Vermont and out of state.  She is a PBIS coach and trainer, a lead ARC (Attachment, Regulation and Competency) trainer for the state of Vermont and has further extensive training in multiple, evidence-based methods for working with and treating children and adults who have experienced developmental trauma.

    Dave MelnickDave Melnick, LICSW, is the Director of Outpatient Services at NFI, Vermont.  For the past 30 years, Dave has worked with children, adolescents and families in a variety of settings including:  outpatient, residential treatment, and schools.  In addition to providing direct clinical work, Dave consults with and trains professionals and parents throughout Vermont, as well as in New York and British Columbia.  His areas of expertise include developmental trauma, family therapy, adolescence, and attachment.  Dave is trained in EMDR, DDP (Dr. Hughe’s attachment model), and a variety of family systems models.  The ChildTrauma Academy acknowledges that Dave has completed NMT Training Certification through the Phase II level.  Dave is a graduate of UC Berkeley, and is an adjunct instructor at the University of Vermont.


    Last modified April 13 2015 01:33 PM

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