WAVERLEY: It’s taken many years of advocacy, but for Shelley Clee and Paul Boudreau it has been worth all the pushback to get the supports for their son Brody.
The Waverley couple have seen the years of advocating for Brody and other students in the education system like him needing teachers to understand childhood trauma pay off as PC Education Critic Tim Halman introduced the Trauma Training for Teachers Bill to the floor of the Nova Scotia Legislature today.
“As a teacher, it can feel really stressful when you’re trying to both teach and provide your students with the supports they need,” said Halman who was a school teacher before becoming an MLA. “We can make a real difference in the lives of students whose only wish is to feel understood.”
For Clee and Boudreau, the bill—dubbed “Brody’s Bill”—was the inspiration behind it. Brody was adopted when he was 10 years old. He is now in his final year of high school and plans to attend university.
Clee says there is a lot of complexity with childhood trauma and having teachers understand was crucial to ensuring a positive learning experience.
“From the time he was a baby up until he came home with us, Brody had a lot of negative childhood experiences and was let down by those who should have been there to care for him. These traumas have affected his development and learning,” says Clee. “We’re enormously proud of Brody and what he has accomplished but not every child will do as well as him. Having teachers understand how trauma works is the first step in building the kind of relationship children like Brody need to flourish.”
Counselling Therapist and Acadia University Adjunct Professor Michael Belgrave said there are far more children and youth than people realize that have experienced trauma in one form or another. The bill will go a long way to helping teachers support these students.
“When we are children and the people who are supposed to take care of us can’t or don’t, it has a huge impact on our ability to cope with stress,” says Belgrave. “When others see this as defiance or acting out, what they are really witnessing is a classic fight, flight or freeze response. And when students are in their ‘danger brain,’ there is no room for learning or paying attention.”
Currently, Nova Scotia educators do not receive trauma-informed training in professional development, nor is trauma-informed training included in B.Ed programs.
Halman said the Liberal government has an opportunity to make a real difference in Nova Scotia’s classrooms.
“When teachers have the resources to do their jobs well, students get a strong education in return,” says Halman. “That sounds like something all members can get behind.”