Specialist trains faculty to handle on-campus crises

Led by Head of School Jeanne Huybrects and Dr. Robert Pynoos, 34 faculty members met Wed. Oct. 17 to evaluate the Student Counseling Program and crisis management at the school.

Pynoos, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and Co-Director for the National Center of Child Traumatic Stress, addressed the group, which included school administrators, school psychologists, English teachers and other faculty about how to prevent crises, how to react to crises and how to follow up on crises.

“He was really helpful in figuring out a plan for major events like earthquakes,” Upper School Dean Jason Honsel said. “I thought we should have focused more on isolated events, like when a kid pulls a gun on another kid, but I guess it’s really hard to plan for something that’s so unpredictable.”

Pynoos focused on not only a logistical plan if a crisis caused students to be kept at school for an extended amount of time, but also a plan to deal with the students’ mental health during this time. Huybrechts invited visual arts teacher Cheri Gaulke as well as English teachers Jennifer Dohr, Jeremy Michaelson and Jennifer Raphael to the workshop because of the emotion that can be found in a student’s writing or art.

“English teachers are often to hear much more about the kids’ feelings than your average science or math teacher,” Huybrects said. “A lot of times kids will also express their inner feelings through their art. We have all seen art hanging from the gallery upstairs that is kind of dark or provocative, and maybe it’s a manifestation of deeper feelings.”

This is the first meeting in what will be a several-month-long evaluation of the program.
Huybrechts and Pynoos plan to meet with smaller subgroups of the faculty who were present at the workshop.

“The deans do get together once a week for a formal talk about the kids at this school who might be experiencing some difficulty,” Huybrechts said. “This is not really academic but of a personal nature.”