#MNPSVoices: Madisien Steele, Trauma Informed Practitioner

MNPSVoices_101817_MadisienSteele-2 (1) Trauma comes in many forms and, despite what some may think, it’s not just something that impacts adults.

“It’s difficult for many adults to deal with traumatic situations, but for kids it can be particularly devastating,” said Madisien Steele, a trauma informed practitioner at Fall-Hamilton Enhanced Option Elementary (FHEOE). “Their brains simply aren’t developed enough to handle what’s happening to them.”

Steele is the first person in Metro Nashville Public Schools to hold the title of trauma informed practitioner, and she is the first person in the state of Tennessee to hold a position in a school that is solely dedicated to supporting students who have experienced trauma.

She has dedicated her career to supporting the emotional needs of students who have suffered trauma so they are able to succeed in an academic environment. For many students who experience a traumatic event, the emotional toll can create feelings of anxiety, fear and even uncertainty about what the future may hold.

“It is inevitable that at some point, all of us will experience some trauma in our lives,” she said. “Until you have sat and talked with some of these children, you have no idea what they are dealing with outside of the classroom.”

In addition to helping students understand what they are feeling and how to deal with those emotions, Steele also works to educate parents, families and teachers so they are better equipped to deal with students who have experienced trauma.

“I’ve actually had parents say they don’t think kids experience trauma – or stress. But stress and trauma looks different for different people,” she said. “We all deal with it and process it differently.”

Before joining MNPS, she spent several years working as a crisis counselor for Youth Villages. Her work with Metro Schools is critically important in supporting the district’s whole learner approach, a belief that in order for a student to be successful you must respond to their physical, social and emotional needs as well as their academic needs. As the first trauma informed practitioner in the state, Steele hopes to leave a footprint by helping students to heal.

“I’m hoping the work I am doing at Fall Hamilton can spread throughout the district and the state,” she said. “It all goes back to the kids and we must start now.”

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