Leaders meet to discuss, address trauma and toxic stress

Branch collaborated with Lester Gillespie, owner of Stella Consulting, Preston Moore, Charleston R-I Board Member, and Superintendent Jeremy Siebert to discuss working together to improve well-being for students, educators, and residents in the Charleston community.

Alive and Well Communities, in partnership with Mr. Gillespie, was recently awarded a grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health to build a network of residents, known as Community Consultants, which are responsible for engaging community members to address their well-being. Consultants empower residents with the tools to identify the impact of toxic stress and trauma on health and wellbeing, and encourage collaborative community change. While Community Consultants are currently active in the St. Louis region, the Bootheel is only the second region in the state to have them.

This work complements the work of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Alive and Well Communities through the REACH initiative. REACH is designed to help schools navigate the social and emotional needs of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. REACH offers professional development, virtual access to mental health experts, and support for advancing educator well-being.

All participants in the meeting identified a number of ways to support educators, students and families to reach well-being. They feel that together, they can help bring healing and support to the Charleston R-I community in the face of trauma and toxic stress.

"This trauma-informed movement will be huge for our district and community," said Superintendent Siebert. "I want to thank Ms. Branch, Mr. Gillespie, and Mr. Moore for their continued support for our teachers and students."