DegreePsychology and English ’17
As a Psychology and English major who hopes to work in education someday, I was torn between the two strands when we decided to branch off into the Education and Psychology teams. I wanted to research everything, but I officially sided with the Psychology strand, still hoping to combine the areas of Psychology and Education in my Bass Connections experience. I knew that trauma experiences did not happen in a vacuum, which led me to wonder how homeless children experiencing trauma functioned in school, and what resources were out there to help them. In thinking about this issue, I thought of a lot of conversations I’ve had with my mom. My mom is an early childhood educator, and we’ve often talked about the intersection of mental health and how to cope with those issues in a school setting. That, combined with my fascination with child and family policy, led me to research how to bridge the gap to schools in response to trauma.
My research has proved to be somewhat piecemeal, as I’ve only found one article so far that specifically focused on addressing trauma in a school setting for children experiencing homelessness. Instead, a lot of my research falls into two strands; there is a body of research on trauma interventions in schools and a lot of literature on services and policies affecting homeless students, but minimal to nonexistent overlap between the two. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time collecting information about various interventions and drawing implications from the literature to address trauma in homeless students. Meanwhile, I’ve also tried to learn more about how different interventions, policies, and procedures can affect the students we’re directly working with at Genesis Home. I was lucky enough to talk to Janet Cherry, the mental health services coordinator for Durham Public Schools, who provided me with invaluable information on the various mental health services available to DPS students.
Armed with my amalgamation of resources, I’m excited to put everything into action next semester. If anything, my research has taught me that there are many gaps in the literature and many gaps in communication and practice for intervention. I hope to use my research to learn how we can best deliver services to the children at Genesis Home, and how school interventions might apply in a transitional home setting. In addition, I want to learn how we can increase awareness and communication about trauma and interventions among parents, GH staff, and educators. Some of my research has talked about creating a “trauma-informed culture” to help children, and I’d love to see the adults in these children’s lives be best equipped to help them.