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Trumping the ACES–Adverse Childhood Experiences

Trumping the ACES–Adverse Childhood Experiences

Jim Sporleder is changing the lives of young people in Walla Walla

From our latest Newsletter–by Cheryl Broetje

Do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord
– Ephesians 6:4

Recently our friend, Jim Sporleder, principal of Lincoln Alternative School in Walla Walla, gave a seminar for staff from several local communities in which we are working. He told his story about how, over the past three years, he has radically changed his philosophy about what it takes for kids in his school to be successful. Lincoln has become a ‘trauma sensitive’ school.

For example: instead of asking: “what’s wrong with this child”, they now ask: What has this child been through?” What could be at the root of causing the negative behavior we see today, that has created enough stress over time to the point that it has become toxic? Toxic stress shuts down the brain and makes it literally impossible to take in new knowledge, or problem solve.
The single most important indicator of whether a child will be successful, is the emotional stability of the home. So, learning to identify how many of the 10 top ACES (adverse childhood experiences) a student has (such as addiction, divorce, abuse and violence, illness, abandonment, incarceration, etc) and addressing those issues with compassion and accountability is critical.
In partnership with a holistic health center now affiliated with the school, expulsions have gone down to almost zero, although the average student comes to Lincoln with 4.5 ACES. Graduations have gone from 12, three years ago to 57 this June. For more on this subject, read the book Brain Rules by John Medina (from S.P.U).

To read the full story about the work Jim is doing, you can see his story here: Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85%.