OPENING KEYNOTE – Trauma Sensitive-Schools: Keeping the Momentum Going

Susan Craig


The goal of the trauma-sensitive school movement is to firmly establish trauma sensitivity within school cultures and practices. Sustaining the enthusiasm of those working to achieve this goal, requires skill in understanding and managing complex change. This starts with knowing how to articulate and market the vision of the desired change. In the case of trauma- sensitive schools, the vision is one of increased academic success and social mastery for all students through implementation of a trauma-sensitive approach. The skills required to sustain a commitment to advancing this vision includes knowing how to design and implement brain based instruction. Additionally, staff need to know how to deescalate behavior, manage student stress, and have the capacity for good self-monitoring and professional objectivity. Incentives involve linking trauma-sensitive changes to existing school improvement goals.  Needed resources include regularly scheduled training and mental health support to address issues related to students with trauma histories and professionals who work with them.


Susan Craig, Ph.D.

Dr. Craig is a lifelong student of early trauma and its effects on children’s learning. Her teaching experience, as well as years of on- site training and technical assistance to school districts throughout the country, provides the context for her advocacy for trauma-sensitive educational reform.

Dr. Craig began her writing career in 1992 with an article in Phi Delta Kappan describing the educational needs of children living with violence. This work received special notice in the now famous “purple book” Helping Traumatized Children Learn published by Massachusetts Advocates for Children: Trauma and Policy Initiative, 2005Her books Reaching and Teaching Children Who Hurt: Strategies for Your Classroom (2008) and Trauma-Sensitive Schools: Learning Communities Transforming Children’s Lives (2015) are best sellers among teachers and administrators who use them to guide their efforts to make schools more accessible to children with challenging behaviors. In 2013, Dr. Craig was among those interviewed in the Safe Start National Resource Center series profiling women who have made an impact on the issue of children’s exposure to violence.

Dr. Craig is an avid blogger and sought after public speaker. In 2014 she participated in the Attachment & Trauma Network’s first Educating Traumatized Children Summit, and again in 2017, and she serves on ATN’s Advisory Council. Her blog is read by educators from around the world.


Melissa Sadin, Ed.D.

Melissa Sadin

Dr. Melissa Sadin is both an adoptive mother of a traumatized son and a lifelong educator. Professionally she has served as a special education teacher in all grades 2-12, and was an elementary school building administrator for 10 years. She currently directs ATN’s Creating Trauma-Sensitive Schools program as well as leads many of the trainings ATN’s CTSS program conducts annually.  In December she received her Doctoral degree in special education, with her dissertation work focused on Developmental Trauma.   Dr. Sadin also currently works as a special education director for a school in Morristown, NJ.   She is on the Board of Directors of the Attachment & Trauma Network, and has served as the Vice President of the Somerville Board of Education and a State Delegate of New Jersey School Boards. She is a contributing author of the Attachment & Trauma Network Blog, an active member of ACEs Connections, and has published articles on children with developmental trauma in the public schools.