The magazine for Western Washington University

Helping students touched by trauma

WWU professors write a guide for teachers

Print this story

WWU Secondary Education Professor Ray Wolpow is the lead author of a free downloadable book from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to help teachers reach students whose lives have been turned upside down by violence, homelessness, grief or other trauma.

“The Heart of Teaching and Learning: Compassion, Resiliency, and Academic Success,” explains how trauma affects students’ behavior and academic achievement, and provides examples of compassionate methods, policies and procedures that might help kids heal and get back on track.

Wolpow took a year-long sabbatical to research the handbook, which he co-authored with OSPI staff and Susan Kinkaid, a WWU assistant professor of Human Services and Rehabilitation. More than 100 educators statewide also contributed to the research.

“A colleague of ours says that focusing on academics while struggling with trauma is like ‘trying to play chess in a hurricane,’” says Wolpow, who was a high school teacher in Whatcom County in the 1980s. “This handbook is intended to serve as a focal point in the collective efforts to help these students overcome trauma, foster resilience, and succeed physically, emotionally, socially and academically in the school setting.”

The book is available for a free download at: