Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis


Master of Science



Program Director

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

First Reader

Matthew Davis, PhD

Second Reader

Rosemarie Michaels, EdD, MEd


Unfortunately, many students enter school each day carrying the effects of traumatic experiences with them and many times teachers are the ones given the daunting task of supporting these students. Some schools lack the ability to provide counseling to students, but many schools have been able to adopt special programs to help students with their social emotional needs. Other schools do not have counselors, and do not have the ability to implement these programs for reasons, such as cost. Through this study, the researcher hoped to understand what teachers can independently do in their classrooms to help support their students’ needs. This study specifically looked at community building in the classroom as a way in which teachers can support their students through traumatic experiences. The data was collected through a longitudinal analysis with second grade students and interviews with three elementary teachers. The study found two main themes for supporting students in the classroom. Safety was the first large theme, with three layers within: safety created through teacher tone, safe physical spaces, and safe spaces for conversations. The second large theme was the playful relationships built on the teacher being a “big kid” with students. Although there were limitations in this study, such as the small population for data collection, the information collected through this study can be helpful in providing context for teachers in supporting students in the classroom who may be dealing with traumatic experiences.

IRB Number