Dorado, USCF HEARTS making a big difference at SFUSD elementary school

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Thanks to the work of Joyce Dorado, PhD, and the UCSF HEARTS program, suspensions at San Francisco’s El Dorado Elementary School have dropped 89% from their 2011-2012 levels. Dorado has been working with the school’s faculty and students since the 2009-10 school year to create a trauma-informed environment and facilitate educational success.

“Childhood trauma is a public health issue,” says Dorado. “It’s really common, and the way kids react to it gets them into trouble in school… We could bring kids into our offices, process their trauma, teach them how to be calm, and send them back into their classrooms, where they’d inadvertently be triggered again, because teachers weren’t aware of what complex trauma does to kids’ behavior in school.”

By educating teachers how stress and trauma affect children, and integrating restorative practices for students, UCSF HEARTS  has had an enormous impact on the environment at the school. Former principal Tai Schoeman says Dorado’s training “really shifted my thinking about why kids were acting the way they were. It’s amazing information that I didn’t have access to before that. It completely transformed my understanding about why kids were getting in fights, throwing chairs, and struggling academically.”


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