With more than a decade of educational experience, Brandy Shooks (M.B.A. ’14) has seen a need for both trauma-informed education for students and proper training in self-care for teachers. Two of Shooks’ biggest personal passions, these fundamental needs in public schools have driven her to become a catalyst for change in the educational sector.

Shooks is a teacher at the university level as well as in public school and has witnessed the burnout many teachers experience after only a few years in the field. Part of her current focus is helping teachers understand the importance of emotional resilience through self-care and mindfulness. Better equipped for their careers, these teachers in turn can better serve their students, especially English language learners (ELL) who sometimes come with specific behavioral concerns.

Many ELL students under Shooks’ care have come from war-torn countries and suffer emotionally from past trauma that affects their current behaviors and abilities to learn in the classroom. Shooks believes that by better incorporating trauma-informed education and restorative justice into the schools’ teaching systems, teachers can provide ELL students with greater opportunities to learn and excel in school and become healthier individuals overall.

Trauma-informed education refers to a recognition that students with past trauma must address emotional barriers before they can grow, personally and academically. Similarly, practicing restorative justice, used in conjunction with trauma-informed education, is better able to address students’ needs by first mending broken relationships and creating a healthy community, instead of simply taking reactive disciplinary action. “Paying attention to the social and emotional learning, the trauma-informed practices and restorative justice … increases the [students’] academic learning,” says Shooks, who hopes to see more teacher education programs incorporate these practices into their curriculum.

A light for Christ in her community, Shooks continues to look for ways to help reform how the educational system approaches behavioral care and emotional health, fostering positive growth and long-term change for students and teachers alike.

About Brandy

Brandy Shooks (M.B.A. ’14) teaches ESL to middle schoolers at Kalamazoo Public Schools and is an adjunct TESOL instructor at Great Lakes Christian College and Western Michigan University. Currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership at Cornerstone, she is passionate about influencing education through trauma-informed practices and restorative justice and helping retain teachers through self-care and emotional resilience.