Trauma-Informed Care / Restorative Practices

Trauma-Informed Care / Trauma-Responsive School

At Paladin, we have made a conscious decision to address the fact that many of our students have experienced emotional distress and childhood trauma. In 2012, we began incorporating the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) into school programming in an effort to help foster our students’ innate resiliency.

The Centers for Disease Control utilizes The ACES study to explore the difficulties that people face in adulthood when they’ve suffered Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).  The study found that when a child experiences traumatic events, the consequence, without proper intervention, can lead to chronic diseases, abuse, mental health diagnoses, difficulty with behavioral regulation and have greater difficulty coping with adversity.

One of the cornerstones of the Paladin approach is to mitigate the harm caused by trauma and a high ACEs score (high amount of adverse childhood experiences).

We strongly believe in supporting our students in more than just academics. To meet their emotional and social needs, Paladin has created a student-centered, trauma-responsive community where all staff are trained in Trauma-Informed Care. By understanding the impacts of trauma, we have developed a safe and supportive environment where positive student relationships are paramount. By cultivating an environment of inclusion and acceptance, students develop the confidence to further their learning.  Students’ social and emotional needs are met by a diverse group of mental health professionals with a focus on overcoming adversity and building resiliency. We utilize support seminars and mental health services to assist our students in all areas of their lives. To better support the behavioral needs our our students, Paladin utilizes a restorative practice model to resolve issues and conflicts by holding students accountable for their actions and working together to repair the harm that occurred.

We know that if a student’s basic needs are not being met, they are going to have a difficult time focusing on their academics. In addition to administering the ACES assessment to all students, we also ask  supplemental questions that address other childhood adversity which might impact student achievement. Combined with the official survey, we call this the ACES Plus Survey.

A report on Paladin’s Trauma-Sensitive approach was published in December of 2016 by American Public Media. To read that article and listen to an accompanying  podcast with teacher and student interviews follow the link below:


Restorative Practices

Unlike traditional disciplinary models, Paladin Career and Technical High School uses Restorative Practice. When a conflict arises at school, instead of using a prescribed punishment (suspension, expulsion, etc.) a Restorative Practice team member will meet with the student and others involved in the conflict. In this meeting, the parties will discuss the participants’ behavior(s), the cause and effect of the situation, and create a plan to repair the relationship between the involved parties.

Similar to the Restorative Practice model, Paladin Career and Technical High School also utilizes peer mediation and circle processes in order to resolve conflict and repair relationships between students and/or staff. The school’s Restorative team members specialize in mediation and circle process facilitation to handle these situations. In effect, the school culture is more unified and Paladin Career and Technical High School is able to create an environment where students feel accepted and valued despite previous incidents.

“If you do things to kids, that’s punishment.  If you do things for them, that’s permissive.  Do nothing at all, and that’s neglect.  But if you do things with them, that’s restorative.”  -Brandon Wait, Paladin Career & Technical High School

To read an EdVisions article about the value and impact of Restorative Practices in schools, and how Paladin has embraced this model, follow the link below:


 Disrupting the Status Quo:

Case Study of Paladin Career and Technical High School’s Use of Restorative Practices
A dissertation by Jennifer K. Blevins

This dissertation research is a qualitative case study to describe and explore the experiences of staff and students using restorative practices at Paladin Career and Technical High School (Paladin), a 9-12 grade charter school in Blaine, Minnesota. Restorative practices were introduced in schools as an alternative means of handling problems as they arise; however have expanded as a whole school approach to build community, develop empathy, improve school climate and prevent problems before they occur. The aim of this study was to describe, 1) The process and turning points in integrating restorative practices at Paladin, 2) The students and staff understandings of restorative practices and the impact, 3) The implications for future school-based restorative practices at Paladin, and 4) What this case study analysis suggests about school-based restorative practices, policies and impact in general. All phases of the research were carried out through a critical race lens. Data at Paladin was collected through the review of archival documents and school policies, participant observations and interviews with seven staff and seven students. The research suggests Paladin disrupts the status quo for students and staff by making the system fit the individual not the individual fit the system, restoring self, strengthening interpersonal relationships, being a safer school, and focusing on solutions not suspensions. Key findings and potential implications are discussed for Paladin, restorative practitioners, other school stakeholders and for public policy.

To read the entire dissertation, click here.

A public charter school serving students in grades 9 – 12