TREE In Action
TREE’s student-empowered whole-child trauma-informed approach to rural school reform begins by meeting basic needs and expanding mental health supports for students and families. Teachers and administrators learn the fundamentals of trauma-informed practice, methods to empower students, and approaches that support the development of the whole child. TREE coaches work with teachers to scaffold genuine student empowerment in and outside the classroom, including opportunities for shared leadership and decision-making, meaningful participation in community building and school-climate change, and involvement in civic engagement efforts. Working in partnership with peers and adults increases all students’ sense of autonomy and control; fosters self-efficacy and competence; and promotes equity, safety, trust, and belonging, thus supporting development across multiple dimensions (including social, emotional, cognitive, and ethical). These factors, in turn, increase academic achievement for all students, which leads, ultimately, to success in school and in life.
In partnership with a number of local agencies and organizations, TREE is providing food, clothing (including winter coats and boots), personal hygiene products, transportation assistance, and dental screening for needy students and their families.
Students now have access to in-school mental health care. 46 students (17% of the total student population) are currently receiving mental health support. Wait times have been reduced from an average of 12-18 months to see a counselor before TREE, to a month or less.Teachers are also given the opportunity for one-on-one mental health counseling and supports.
In addition to one-on-one counseling, mental health coaches have facilitated meetings between parents and teachers and conducted classroom observations—two essential services that were not previously available to schools and families.
Milbridge and Jonesport Elementary schools promote student voice and empowerment via student-initiated activities and outdoor micro-adventures.
In the one pilot school receiving the full array of TREE supports during the 2017-2018 academic year, the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state standards increased by 11% in math and by close to 9% in literacy.