Crittenton Services recently invited the public to a screening of Paper Tigers, a film that captures the pain, danger, beauty and hopes of struggling teens—and the teachers armed with new science and fresh approaches that are changing lives for the better. The screening and the follow up discussion were underwritten by sponsorships from Crittenton Services, Inc., UniCare, and the Handle with Care Initiative.
The documentary film was screened on Tuesday, September 26 at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theatre. Paper Tigers follows a year in the life of an alternative high school in Walla Walla, WA, that has radically changed its approach to disciplining its students, and in the process has become a promising model for how to break the cycles of poverty, violence and disease that affect families.
Former principal of Lincoln High School, Jim Sporleder, gave a post-screening talk back about healing trauma in the school setting. Having over twenty years of experience as a teacher, Sporleder went to Lincoln in 2007. Under his leadership, the school gained national attention due to a dramatic decrease in out-of-school suspensions, increased graduation rates, and a higher number of students going on to post-secondary education. Since retiring, Sporleder has continued to work as a trauma-informed education consultant with Children’s Resilience Initiative, based in Walla Walla, and travels the country to present on the topic of trauma.
“The event was a great fit as a pre-conference session of the Handle with Care Conference,” says Crittenton President & CEO, Kathy Szafran. “Research demonstrates that many West Virginia children experience early childhood adversity which impacts their school career, transition to adulthood, and long-term health. Crittenton has been committed to trauma-informed care and research since 2010. There are now many partnerships, across a variety of systems, that are exploring and utilizing trauma-informed practice in the state. Anyone who works with young people will find the film and the presentation a good source of information on trauma-informed care and brain development.”
Sporleder was also the opening speaker for the Handle with Care Conference, held Sept. 27-29, at the Charleston Civic Center. The Handle with Care program promotes safe and supportive homes, schools, and communities that protect children and help traumatized children heal and thrive. The goal of the initiative is to prevent children’s exposure to trauma and violence, mitigate negative affects experienced by children’s exposure to trauma, and to increase knowledge and awareness of this issue. The conference brought together hundreds of community partners dedicated to ensuring that children who are exposed in their homes, school or community receive appropriate interventions to help them achieve academically.
“UniCare was pleased to support the viewing and Mr. Sporleder’s appearance,” says Melissa Duncan, UniCare Director of Behavioral Services. “As with any health initiative, prevention and early intervention are key to effective member care. Trauma-informed care holds promise for young people struggling with the effects of early adversity. Maybe more importantly, it offers hope, underpinned by developmental science, that just one caring adult can break the cycle of adversity in a young person’s life.”