Childhood trauma, with its diverse causes and profound consequences, has risen to the awareness of educators across the country. Lesley University is committed to serving educators who seek a nuanced understanding of the effects of trauma on learning—and to the cultivation of safe, supportive classrooms where children feel seen, heard, and understood. In such classrooms, a child is free to take emotional and cognitive risks, while experiencing the uninhibited joy of learning.
Since 2010, the Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity (LIFTS) has been helping school staff in Massachusetts and beyond to deepen their knowledge about childhood trauma and to introduce practices that significantly lessen its impact.
To advance the development of trauma sensitive environments, the Institute for Trauma Sensitivity, in collaboration with Massachusetts Advocates for Children’s Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative (MAC/TLPI), works directly with school districts to help educators understand the dynamics of acute and chronic trauma, its adverse effects on learning, and how trauma sensitive schools can benefit all children. LIFTS is directed by Dr. Sal Terrasi.
We partner with diverse schools locally, nationally, and globally. In these partnerships, we have witnessed remarkable outcomes that include fewer office referrals, fewer suspensions, stronger classroom communities, and better support networks for educators.
The Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity is supported by the Oak Foundation, which commits its resources to address issues of global social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.
We provide two key services: a graduate-level, four-course curriculum and executive coaching. If you're interested in any of these offerings, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following four courses make up a graduate certificate program in Trauma and Learning. Individual courses may also be taken for graduate level credit.
Courses are appropriate for teachers, school psychologists and health practitioners, school administrators, and staff of community-based organizations/agencies. You'll benefit from the experience of our LIFTS instructors, who are seasoned educators and school leaders deeply experienced with the course content and its practical application to learning environments.
Take these courses in an eight-week format at a site near your school or district. Another option is to take courses in a low-residency institute format, which combines weekend study with continuing online work. One participant called the residency "a truly life-changing program." Another said it was "inspirational and empowering on a topic that can be daunting and overwhelming.”
The Impact of Trauma on Learning: An Overview
This course examines the impact of traumatic experience on student learning (both academic and social / emotional) and provides a structured approach to individual and school wide interventions. The biological, environmental, and sociocultural aspects of traumatic experience will be presented, and participants will analyze the effects of their work with students impacted by trauma on their own well being (secondary trauma).
The Impact of Trauma on Learning: Classroom and Student Supports
Trauma affects self regulation, social skills and a child’s sense of health and well being, along with interfering with more traditional academic skills that require language, memory and executive function. This course will address ways to promote these non-academic and academic competencies for students impacted by trauma, including which competencies can be incorporated into the learning flow (as they benefit all children) and which are best taught with an individual support plan.
The Impact of Trauma on Learning: Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools
This course is designed to expand knowledge of trauma, its impacts, and the process for building trauma sensitive environments through examination of the underlying change theory, processes, and tools needed to establish trauma sensitivity. Participants demonstrate their understanding by either developing a plan for guiding the creation of a trauma-sensitive school or conducting research grounded in trauma-informed inquiry.
The Impact of Trauma on Learning: Action Research and Seminar
Students demonstrate their understanding of the attributes of trauma-sensitivity by working together to design and conduct research that assesses the outcomes of efforts to improve trauma-sensitivity in classrooms, schools, or other learning environments.
We provide executive coaching to district/school leaders as well as other school and community-based staff who aim to create environments that are increasingly trauma-sensitive.
Details on Executive Coaching
Examples include principals and assistant principals, other district/school administrators (e.g., wraparound service directors), school-based paraprofessionals, and staff of community-based organizations/agencies.
We’ll collaborate with you to develop a schedule and content plan tailored to meet the needs of particular districts, schools, and other organizations. Typically, coaching sequences are shorter and more intensive than regular LIFTS courses. The cost of each plan is dependent on its context. Our team and the coaching recipients agree on a plan that includes cost of services. This plan is outlined in a memorandum of understanding that is signed by both parties.
Coaching is provided by Sal Terrasi, director, and Joel Ristuccia, lead instructor/mentor. They have a deep understanding of educational, cultural, psychological, and political factors that affect the learning environment.
Possible focal points for executive coaching include:
- Leading school or district change initiatives
- Assistance with data collection and analysis
- Monitoring and assessing progress of initiatives
For more information, contact: Salvatore Terrasi, email@example.com, (617) 699-8769.
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Director of Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity, Adjunct Professor
Salvatore (Sal) Terrasi is project director for the Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity and oversees all program activities. He is a member of the adjunct faculty and an authority on educational research, measurement, and evaluation. As a practitioner with more than 45 years of experience in public education, Sal has been a classroom teacher, school adjustment counselor, special education team chair, and director of research. He has presented at many professional conferences, published articles in a number of professional journals and conference proceedings, and is co-author of “Trauma and learning in America’s classrooms,” Kappan (March 2017)
Patricia Crain de Galarce
Patricia is associate dean in the Graduate School of Education and director of the Center for Inclusive and Special Education. She is also supervisor of the Lesley Institute for Trauma Sensitivity.
She began her career as an elementary, bilingual, and special education teacher. She has taught almost every grade level from young children to graduate students in Massachusetts, Washington, DC, and Paraguay. For 12 years, Patricia led Stokes (EWS) School, a dual language immersion elementary school in DC, as the director of education and principal. Before returning to Lesley, she served as DC's Lead Clinical Faculty for the Urban Teacher Center. Previously, Patricia managed the Literacy Institute at Lesley and taught as an adjunct faculty for Simmons University, Catholic University of America, and Lesley University.
BS in Education, Westfield State University
MA in Intercultural Relations, Lesley University
CAGS in Education Administration, Lesley University
Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, University of Pennsylvania
Assistant Director, Center for Inclusive and Special Education
In her position as assistant director of the Center for Inclusive and Special Education at Lesley University, Merlyn brings a wide range of experience and knowledge. During her years at Lesley, she has worked in multiple roles across the Graduate School of Education, most recently as an academic advisor.