Northside Elementary receives grant to help students with trauma

The La Crosse Public Education Foundation granted Northside Elementary with $4,000 to help develop what is called a Trauma-Informed school.

The program will allow staff to be trained on how to respond to children who may be dealing with abuse, mental illnesses or tough family situations.

Their goal is to offer better mental health support and give students a chance to grow academically.

With the help of a UWL psychology professor, the school is working to be trauma-informed, meaning when they know students are battling with tough issues outside of school, they can offer the proper support and resources.

“More significant things like the death of a grandparent, a move, a family move, those will be all things that could be upsetting to children and when they come in to school they are things that we need to respond to,” said Northside Elementary principal Laura Huber.

UWL psychology professor Betty DeBoer will be assisting teachers with knowledge on trauma to better support students.

“I will be looking at the current policies and procedures that are used by the district that impact all children, including children with trauma backgrounds to see if they are implemented in a way that is supportive to this population as well.”

DeBoer says trauma-informed care is a concept that is now widely recognized across the country.

“We’re also finding hospitals and businesses, social services, departments, police departments, are finding it’s really important to understand the behavior of people that have been traumatized.”

Huber says teachers are trained on many things, but not necessarily on how to respond to trauma.

She says this program will hopefully change that.

“Anytime we have a child that comes to us who’s hurting, in one way or another, that we are able to meet that child’s needs, help that child heal, and then be able to move on with their studies, so they’re making a lot of progress with their reading, and their math and their writing.”

School officials also say once they establish what the needs are at the school, they’ll be able to determine exactly what kind of training staff should receive.

For more information on the trauma-informed program or how you can support it, visit