Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

Education Leadership & Counseling

First Advisor

Dr. Shawn Bultsema

Second Advisor

Star Zetocha

Third Advisor

Dr. Cathy Meyer-Looze

Academic Year



Nearly half of all American children under the age of 18 years have experienced a traumatic event with over 50% experiencing an event before five years of age. Trauma can exhibit in many forms in the elementary classroom and may be misinterpreted as a simple misbehavior. Research shows that using traditional methods of reacting to the behavior instead of discovering the need behind the behavior only exacerbates poor behavior. Research further shows children exposed to trauma cannot learn in an environment they do not deem as safe and secure. With national programs enabled to increase academic scores, a whole child approach should also be required to attain this goal. As of 2019, only 30 states have set standards implementing trauma informed practices to encourage safe and secure environments in which these children can learn. This project intends to increase trauma recognition and encourage mindset change at the teacher level to distinguish poor behaviors from calls for help. Thus, helping the children exposed to trauma feel safe and secure in their learning environment and focus on learning rather than merely surviving.