Educators work to help Oklahoma kids exposed to trauma

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MIDWEST CITY - While many students had Monday off - some educators used the day to learn how to help their students learn better while at school.

Teachers learned how to deal with one of the biggest problems facing Oklahoma kids: trauma.

"If something happens, grades go down," said Robin Gurwitch, PhD.

The nationally recognized child psychologist talked about a serious problem for Oklahoma school children.

"We know that, in Oklahoma, we have more students who have had adverse childhood experiences or experienced trauma at a level that actually leads the nation," said State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

Monday at a conference center in Midwest city, more than 500 educators met to learn how to deal with kids who have been through traumatic events.

"Schools - by being more trauma informed, by understanding impact of trauma in the lives of students - can begin to make changes," Gurwitch said.

Gurwitch is a psychologist at Duke Medical Center in North Carolina but, back in the 90s, she worked with children at the Oklahoma health department after the Murrah building bombing. She knows trauma comes in different forms.

"Tornadoes or something as horrific as the Oklahoma City bombing - but it can also be personal traumas, child maltreatment, neglect, witness to domestic violence," she said.

First lady Sarah Stitt was also there, speaking on her focus to help traumatized kids.

Educators seem open and willing to take the steps to help gets get back on track.

"I think the biggest part of the problem is getting it out in the open and being aware of what to look for," said Will Rutledge, special ed teacher at Edmond North High School.

"The students need the opportunity to build a relationship with anyone and everyone they reach out to, and that could happen absolutely more times than not with teachers in the classroom," said Jaime Hendrix, councilor at Little Axe Middle School.

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