Author Archive | Sean Burns

Another Failed Charter: Do These Schools Have a Future?

In February, the Einstein Montessori School in Orlando became a casualty of the charter school experiment. State officials closed the school that had 40 students ranging from third through eighth grade. The school promoted itself as a specialty institution for dyslexic students but teachers told media outlets that there was no curriculum in place, no computers and no school library. Despite these and other red flags the school remained in operation longer than it should have because Florida law currently only allows for immediate school closures for safety, welfare and health issues.

Of course parents of the students at the school are outraged but so are taxpayers. Einstein Montessori received close to $165,000 in state money for operations – money that cannot be recovered or redirected. That number is just a drop in the bucket when compared to the total $287 million in state money that four failed Orlando-area charter schools received in recent years. Consider what that number looks like on a state scale. Now consider it on a national level. With stories like the failure of Einstein Montessori in the headlines, it is no wonder parents and other community members angrily attend charter school meetings and protest against their opening.

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SOE Commencement: Student Speaker Eduardo Caldera’s remarks

There are always special moments at graduation that particularly touch our faculty and staff and one such moment happened with our student speaker, Eduardo Caldera, a clinical community counseling graduate.

Due to bad weather, the ceremony was moved inside this year and the program was abbreviated.  But since graduation is about the students, it was decided that the student speaker would be the only speaker to read his/her full remarks.  However, Eduardo made the decision not to give his full speech as he didn’t think it was fair to the other speakers or even an abbreviated version because he didn’t want to hold up any of his classmates and their families who wanted to leave after receiving their diplomas. 

We think this says a lot about Eduardo’s character.  Please take a moment to read his speech, which was selected through a competition whereby students present their speech to a panel comprised of faculty and staff.  It comes from the heart – something Eduardo clearly has. 

Welcome Johns Hopkins School of Education graduating class of 2013!  This very special day belongs to you so PLEASE let’s have a round of applause!

Now, I’m here today not just because I’m a proud graduate of our world renowned and prestigious university, but specifically, I’m here because I wanted to speak out to the graduates of this group–my future colleagues.  I have always been particularly drawn to people who choose to seek a higher degree within the school of education.  I’m talking to those of you who had the distinct interest and initiative to specialize in education, special education, school counseling, mental health counseling, and public safety leadership. Continue Reading →


Life Doesn’t Frighten Me At All: Play Therapy with Traumatized Children

The following post is by SOE Faculty Affiliate Eric J. Green, who is presenting at the upcoming Play Therapy Institute. Click here to learn more about that exciting event.

“Dragons breathing flame on my counterpane, that doesn’t frighten me at all.” – Maya Angelou, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

“Dragons breathing flame on my counterpane, that doesn’t frighten me at all.” – Maya Angelou, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

School-based violence, community violence associated with gang activity, natural and human-made disasters, terrorism, and other forms of acute or chronic trauma affect a significant number of children every year (Green, 2012). Exposure to traumatic events during childhood often leads to maladjustment that disrupts the typical maturation process. These children display iterations of trauma-related symptoms including dysphoria, hyperarousal, extreme sensitivity, interpersonal discord, and ostensible changes in healthy eating and/or sleeping habits. Play therapy is a potentially beneficial mental health treatment modality for traumatized children that is (a) developmentally-sensitive; (b) facilitates emotional safety by utilizing less threatening forms of communication than the standard “talking cure,” (c) engenders positive self-worth through creative self-expression, (d) fosters self-efficacy in collaborative problem solving; and (e) derives healing from the nonjudgmental, therapeutic relationship.

For some children and adolescents, writing about aberrant thoughts and feelings surrounding a potentially traumatic experience and then depicting them symbolically through play-based media like sandplay and abstract artwork is less threatening than expressing the information verbally and may assist with integration. Prominent trauma researchers van der Kolk and d’Andrea (2010) state that simply talking about traumatic experiences does not necessarily assist the mind and brain to integrate the dissociated images and cognitions into a cohesive whole so healing may activate. Through creative play-based therapy sessions, like those that incorporate the coloring of mandalas, children and clinicians may engage in co-participating activities that further the child’s trust in others and increase the opportunities for post-traumatic integration to occur.

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