School counselors take on at-home trauma in the classroom

Cristo Rey faculty get one full day a week to collaborate and strategize about how to meet the specific needs of individual students. (Bas Slabbers/for WHYY)

By Kevin McCorry

School counselor Pam Turner-Bunyon had been warned: This new, incoming student had a dark profile and was prone to very erratic behavior.

"When he first came to us, he ran out of the building, the first day — the very first day — instead of coming in, he ran," she said.

Turner-Bunyon learned what happened and immediately took off, dashing out into the crime-prone streets that surround the school.

"I found out he was running so I went and chased him down, and coaxed him back in and we worked to develop safety places in the building," she said.

Turner-Bunyon has 15 years under her belt as counselor at Feltonville Intermediate, a Philadelphia public school serving grades three, four and five. Most students come from low-income families.

Years ago, in the same situation, she would have reacted differently — maybe gotten angry and tried to lecture the student sternly about his misbehavior.

But that was before she learned about "trauma-informed" education care.

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