Park Middle School, in Antioch, California, has spurred a movement within Antioch Unified School District toward expanding and scaling the progress and measures of success experienced at Park. [see below video for a look inside Park’s practices]

In 2014, using dollars from a BYRNE grant the county received, we implemented a range of trauma informed features that helped shift the culture at Park MS from one that was focused on punishment toward one that centered around support and accountability. First, all teachers were trained in trauma informed practices, and in Dynamic Mindfulness through the Oakland, CA-based Niroga Institute. While the trauma training enabled educators to recognize their own trauma as well as the behavior of trauma-impacted students, the Dynamic Mindfulness training provided staff and students with tools for self-regulation and healing. The Niroga Institute has well-documented success through empirical research supporting its efficacy in reducing stress and increasing a sense of calm among both staff and students.

Further, we implemented a Wellness Room, modeled after the San Francisco-based HEARTS model. The Wellness Room is a space on campus where students can come— voluntarily or at the suggestion of their teacher — for 5-10 minutes to practice self-regulation skills in order to get in a learning head space. Once inside the Wellness Room, students check in and identify the primary reason for their visit — and indicate which of the three options they want to use: speak with a counselor, access sensory tools, or practice dynamic mindfulness. Before students leave, they quickly fill out an exit slip where they rate how well their issue has been addressed.

Data from the Wellness Room are used by school administrators to identify a number of key metrics, including:

  1. Which students Wellness Room use is atypically high — suggesting an early warning indicator and potential for a proactive intervention.

  2. Which teachers send/have students with the highest use — suggesting the need for additional training or support for that teacher.

  3. Which students use is predictable over the course of the day — suggesting the need for a more formalized intervention, such as ‘check in/check out’.