Individual Presentation

First Presenter's Institution

Bethlehem Center

First Presenter’s Email Address

First Presenter's Brief Biography

Grace Miller has served as the Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Coordinator at the Bethlehem Center since 2019, and was promoted to Senior SEL Coordinator in 2021. She graduated with her Bachelor's degree in Social Work from UT Chattanooga in May 2019 and with her Master's degree in Social Work from UT Knoxville in May 2020. She is certified in ACEs Building Better Brains, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), and Mental Health First Aid. She is passionate about teaching and implementing SEL as see she's how powerful students become owning who they are and caring for their relationships. Grace loves to learn about new and innovative ways she can serve the kids she works with so that they have the tools to create brighter futures!

Second Presenter's Institution

Bethlehem Center

Second Presenter’s Email Address

Second Presenter's Brief Biography

Rachel DeVore has served as the Director of Education at the Bethlehem Center since 2016, after leaving the public school system as a classroom teacher. She has her Bachelor's degree in Education from UT Chattanooga and has many years of experience with non-profits, as well as data collection and analysis. She is passionate about students and providing them with a truly engaging and caring out of school time experience. She is proud of the program at the Bethlehem Center, but she is most proud of her two amazing children, as well as her incredibly supportive husband.

Third Presenter's Institution

Bethlehem Center

Third Presenter’s Email Address

Third Presenter's Brief Biography

Morgan Reeves has served as the Education Program Coordinator at The Bethlehem Center for the past three years. She graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in 2018 with her Bachelor’s in Social Work and plans to return to school for her Master’s degree in 2022. As the Education Program Coordinator, she is second in command to the Director of Education. Her passion lies in the inner-city communities. Everyday at The Bethlehem Center is a new adventure. Throughout her three years, experience has been her biggest gain.

Fourth Presenter's Institution

Bethlehem Center

Fourth Presenter’s Email Address

Fourth Presenter's Brief Biography

In 2018, Emily graduated with a bachelor's degree in Communication with a minor in Political Science. This education showed her the importance of understanding the needs of underserved individuals in our country and advocating for policies that work to meet those needs. This background led her to get my Masters of Social Work which she obtained in May 2021 from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Throughout the program Emily was able to gain experience in clinical work, case management, and advocacy through projects and internships which have helped her grow immensely. She enjoys using what she has learned so far and learning more through her current role as a Social and Emotional Learning Coordinator for upper elementary and middle school students at The Bethlehem Center. In this role she been able to work with students as they develop their social skills, understand and regulate their emotions, and form healthy relationships. For the rest of her social work career, Emily hope to continue being a support to adolescents and their families as they navigate growing up.

Fifth Presenter's Institution

Bethlehem Center

Fifth Presenter’s Email Address

Fifth Presenter's Brief Biography

In 2018, Abby graduated with a bachelor's degree in Child and Family Studies, With that background, she is trained in the area of child development and understanding how the Family System plays a role in the growth of Children and Adolescents. In 2020, she graduated with her Master's Degree in Social Work and geared her focus on under-served and underprivileged communities, along with Mental Health. While interning at a local community behavioral health facility Abby was able to practice her skills by doing therapy in a middle school setting, working with adolescents with a variety of mental disorders, from Generalized Anxiety to Borderline Personality and everything in between. In addition she holds certifications in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy and QPR (Gatekeeper Training for Sucide Prevention). Melding her two degrees together has given Abby the knowledge and experience to work with the Social and Emotional Department at The Bethlehem Center. She helps middle school and high school students learn and apply skills to manage and regulate emotions, form healthy relationships, and express empathy. Additionally, she has aided in creating trauma-informed programming by teaching classroom teachers and staff how to work with kids that have experienced trauma. Her continual work to make sure our students' emotional, mental, and physical health and safety are her number one priority by ensuring that we serve the child and their family systems as a whole and not just individual parts.


Session Four Breakouts

Strand #1

Heart: Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Home: Family & Community Engagement


Our presentation directly addresses Social and Emotional skills in that we provide information concerning how we implemented Trauma-Informed SEL into our program, which inevitably changed our program culture. We believe through our presentation, other education-based facilities will find practical tips on implementation of knowledge.

Brief Program Description

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) has become widely recognized component of schools, out-of-school-time programs, and other care facilities. However, do we as educators know how to practically implement SEL in a way that also addresses the trauma many of our kids face? In this presentation, we will discuss how we actually implemented Trauma-Informed SEL practices into our out-of-school-time program with respect to our students who have experienced systematic and systemic trauma.


Since the early years of the Bethlehem Center, our agency has had a reputation for serving its communities’ youth. Historically, students were to acclimate to the structure of the program or face discipline. Like many education-based facilities, in recent years the Bethlehem Center has found that this method of punishment when students fail to uphold the structure is outdated. In our presentation, we will present methods and practices we used to take us from a culture of harsh structure and discipline to Trauma-Informed SEL.

A large reason our agency saw room for growth was due to the number of students who consistently struggled to show positive behaviors in the classroom and/or had difficulty adhering to the structure of the program. We saw that as an agency, we were helping students academically, physically, and spiritually, but were not addressing the social and emotional needs present in a population of children affected by trauma on multiple levels. With the installment of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) came our need to better educate ourselves on ACEs, trauma-informed care, Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), Mental Health First Aid, and important therapeutic modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Theory (CBT).

In learning and practicing this material, we have found that we are better able to serve our kids by working with them and not again them. We incorporated chill spaces into every classroom, laid sensory paths in the hallways, obtain and utilize regulation tools, help kids acknowledge and resolve their needs, and offer SEL support on an individual, small group, and classroom level. We know that in order to address the social and emotional development issues in our students, helping them learn SEL skills and strategies through a trauma-informed lens is the best possible chance for healing their brains due to trauma in their lives.

Implementing Trauma-Informed SEL has brought many additional benefits to our students and program. First, we have seen changes in the way our students regulate, express, and manage themselves and their relationships. Second, we have seen changes in our relationships and rapport with student families. Third, we have seen changes in our program staff in the way they teach our kids and operate with other staff.

There were a lot of challenges from shifting to a Trauma-Informed SEL approach. However, our results are showing us that in doing this work, we are teaching our kids children how to be more socially and emotionally intelligent individuals and heal from the hard situations they have been through. If at the end of the day, they can leave our program knowing that they are loved and supported, we feel as if we have done our job.


Baez, J.C., et al. (2019). Understanding the necessity of trauma-informed care in community schools: a mixed-methods program evaluation. National Association of Social Workers 41(2), 101-110

This article states that the higher the trauma that a child is exposed to, the lower the social skill the child has and the higher behavior problem the child faces. It also touches on the importance of community resources that are available to the child.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, May 14). Healthy Schools: Out of School Time.

The CDC states that Out of School time programs are linked to academic achievement, reducing health disparities, and improving personal and social skills.

Fantuzzo, J. McWayne, C., Perry, M.A., Childs, S. (2004) Multiple Dimensions of Family Involvement and Their Relations to Behavioral and Learning Competencies for Urban, Low-Income Children. School Psychology Review, 33(4) 467-480, DOI: 10.1080/02796015.2004.12086262

This study concludes that one of the best predictors for positive child outcomes is family involvement. They found that family involvement in academic and social settings can increase motivation to learn and lower conduct problems among other factors.

Kim, S., Crooks, C.V., Bax, K. et al. Impact of Trauma-Informed Training and Mindfulness-Based Social–Emotional Learning Program on Teacher Attitudes and Burnout: A Mixed-Methods Study. School Mental Health 13, 55–68 (2021).

Trauma informed SEL approach can equip teachers with the tool they need to reduce stress that is a product of working with children who have experienced trauma.

Latch, C.D., Irby, D.J., Tate, K., Rivera, R. (2010).Towards a Critically Conscious Approach to Social and Emotional Learning in Urban Alternative Education: School Staff Members’ Perspectives. Journal for Action in Counseling and Psychology 7(1) ,41-63.

This article states how SEL is implemented differently according to the people that our program serves in order to be culturally competent.

Matlin, S.L., et al. (2019). A community's response to adverse childhood experiences: Building a resilient, trauma‐informed community. American Journal of Community Psychology 64(3-4), 451-466.

This article shows us the importance of having a trauma informed community when working with people who have experienced trauma.

Maslow, A.H. (1943) A Theory of Human Motivation, Psychological Review (50) 370-396.

Maslow demonstrates evidence that our most basic human needs, such as hunger, sleep, and safety, need to be met before any other need can be considered. For children to begin to learn and understand Social and Emotional Learning we must make sure that their basic needs are met first.

Piotroski, C. C. (2020) Adverse Childhood Experiences: Using Evidence to Advance Research, Practice, Policy, and Prevention. Pages 307-328.

Piotroski confirms that trauma-informed people are critical to those who have experienced trauma, especially children. People who have experienced Trauma are more likely to have Adverse Childhood Experiences.

Sel: What are the core competence areas and where are they promoted? CASEL. (n.d.).

These Competencies are which we operate SEL out of, each competence highlights what we are trying to instill in our students.

Yochman, A., & Pat-Horenczyk, R. (2019). Sensory Modulation in Children Exposed to Continuous Traumatic Stress. Journal of child & adolescent trauma, 13(1), 93–102.

This article links the need for sensory regulation in children who have been exposed to trauma.

Learning Objective 1

Participants will learn why utilizing Trauma-Informed SEL is an essential aspect of agency, school, and/organizational culture.

Learning Objective 2

Participants will learn how to practically implement Trauma-Informed SEL into their own programming.

Learning Objective 3

Participants will be able to conceptualize how to transform their own school-based programs into Trauma-informed SEL rich environments.

Keyword Descriptors

SEL, trauma-informed, community engagement, family engagement, practical tips

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-8-2022 8:30 AM

End Date

3-8-2022 9:45 AM


Mar 8th, 8:30 AM Mar 8th, 9:45 AM

Duh, What Our Kids Need: Trauma-Informed SEL

Session Four Breakouts

Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) has become widely recognized component of schools, out-of-school-time programs, and other care facilities. However, do we as educators know how to practically implement SEL in a way that also addresses the trauma many of our kids face? In this presentation, we will discuss how we actually implemented Trauma-Informed SEL practices into our out-of-school-time program with respect to our students who have experienced systematic and systemic trauma.