From aromatherapy to anger management: How schools are addressing the 'crisis' of childhood trauma []

Schools are experimenting with new ways to address behavior issues and support students who are struggling emotionally.

By Elizabeth Chuck and Marshall Crook
May 20, 2019, 11:24 AM EDT

YAKIMA, Wash. — Instead of going outside for recess on a recent Friday, fifth-grader Thomas Stevenson walked down a hallway in Ridgeview Elementary School and entered a dimly lit room.

Inside, lavender aromatherapy filled the air, spa-like music played and a projector broadcast clouds onto a screen. Passing by bean bag chairs on the floor and chess sets on tables, Thomas picked up some Legos and began building an elaborate structure.

Thomas, 11, was spending his recess in this converted classroom, known as the Calm Room, by choice. At his previous school, he often got into fights on the playground. His first school suspension was in kindergarten, the year his parents divorced; both parents struggled with drug addiction, and his father was briefly incarcerated.

The troubles at home led to challenges at school. In fourth grade, he was suspended five times.

Since transferring to Ridgeview in the fall, he hasn’t been suspended at all — in part because of the work he has done in the Calm Room.

“People talking about my mom — that’s what I used to get in fights all about,” said Thomas, whose mother has been clean since 2009 and is now a drug and alcohol counselor herself. “It’s nice being a kid that’s not getting into fights anymore.”


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From the article:  For more on NBC News and MSNBC’s “Kids Under Pressure” series, watch “Nightly News with Lester Holt” tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET and watch “Today” tomorrow 8 a.m. ET.