Dr. Chaunte Garrett, chief academic officer of Rocky Mount Preparatory School was tapped by ASCD to serve as a featured speaker for their EMPOWER 19 Conference for Every Educator. ASCD is the largest international organization of educators. With a focus on the whole child, it serves to provide educators an array of resources to ensure every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged. Dr. Garrett will moderate at the featured panel during this year's conference.
"We cannot treat trauma like it is the current educational or political trend. Trauma is real, it is impactful, it is the result of school shootings, it is the result of bullying, it is the result of poverty, it is the result of any condition or event that negatively impacts our lives; and when it happens, we live in trauma,” Garrett stated.
ASCD first presented the Panel on Trauma and Equity during its Conference on Teaching Excellence in June 2018. The response was overwhelming; it was decided then, it must happen again, in a forum where more educators would gain access to the content. "It was so powerful, we all had to take a minute to breathe at the conclusion. We needed to process the faces we saw, the tears that penetrated programs, the unanswered questions that we did not have time to address," Garrett explained. "In schools, not only are children impacted by trauma but the adults who serve them are impacted as well. So our conversation with adults in Chicago will be how we prepare and respond when traumatic events occur or when trauma is realized. The learning environment is impacted. Our response is critical. Our response determines whether those impacted receive an equitable opportunity to education and quality of life on the other side of their experience."
The panel also includes: Mr. Brian Bolden, former principal of Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Ga. Brian's school was faced with a gunman on their campus and forced to lockdown and then evacuate while the school receptionist was able to disengage the shooter, Dr. Sherry Earle, who served on-site in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2013, and Ms. Whitney Allgood, serving the National Center for School Climate. "There's many perspectives of trauma being presented. We want people to understand it could happen to anyone and you can also get on the other side of it. Being prepared is key in addition to being real enough to understand the traumatic potential that exists around you."
"This is an equity conversation. We have a responsibility to meet every scholar and every family where they are. Look in the world around us. Everything that happens in our world, manifests in our schools. We cannot ignore that," Garrett shares. "At Rocky Mount Prep, I serve some of the most amazing scholars you will ever meet. I wish I could say they were exempt from the challenges of the world. They aren't. So if any scholar walks through our door with needs and experiences that are impacting their abilities to learn, we have to acknowledge and equip ourselves to be able to support them, so that they can learn, they can have opportunities and ultimately whatever has happened only makes them stronger and the negative lasting impact is limited. That is why we have partnerships with the many businesses and faith based organizations. They provide the experiences and resources needed to level the playing field for our scholars."
Dr. Garrett has presented for ASCD for several years while writing and serving in other capacities. She is a 2014 Emerging Leaders alumni and currently serves on their Position Advisory Committee, working with leaders from across the country to provide guidance on the organization's position on educational issues, as well as serves on their instructional leadership coaching team. "I am honored to be selected by ASCD to serve in this capacity. We are doing powerful work around trauma and equity at Rocky Mount Prep. I am humbled it is being acknowledged this way. We are not only invited to the table but ushering other educators into the conversation of how we support kids in being healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged."
Dr. Garrett will also be leading sessions on uncovering racism and initiating conversations about race within a school environment, as well as facilitating a forum on instructional leadership.