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Don Martin & Magy Martin

Don Martin & Magy Martin

Youngstown State University, USA

Title: The effects of trauma and poverty in African-American children in an urban school district


Biography: Don Martin & Magy Martin


The presenters will discuss an ongoing five-year grant project in an urban school district in Youngstown, Ohio. It is the only urban school district/ university partnership where the district funds school counseling students in the U.S. In this grant, 12 Masters level school counseling students are placed for 20 hours per week for three years in an urban school in exchange for graduate-level tuition and a stipend.

In these schools, the students provide guidance lessons, consultation with staff and parents, and mental health counseling services to students. In addition, the students have been involved in numerous research projects with the presenters in order to examine the impact of trauma, violence, and poverty relative to the mental health and academic performance of African-American children within the district.

The presentation of the workshop will be twofold. First, we want to discuss the impact on graduate students regarding both their mental health and graduate training while they have worked in an urban school with students who have a significant need for services. Most of our students were raised in lower-class to middle-class families and had little experience working with children in significant poverty. The adjustment has been difficult and we will share comments and experiences from our students during this journey.

The second part of the presentation will focus on students in the Youngstown city district which is one of the poorest cities in the United States with an unemployment rate that is three times the national average. In the previous decade, Youngstown was called the murder capital of the United States. Violence and drug use is commonplace for these children and many have a parent or sibling who is incarcerated. As the poorest performing academic district in the state, the governor of Ohio chose to take over the district and appoint a CEO to run the district in order to improve both it's academic and financial standing.

Besides providing trauma data regarding over one thousand students in the district over several years, we want to discuss the typical life of many of these students and how they relate to teachers and other staff. Mental health services and policies will be discussed as well as interventions that we have found effective with children who suffer from significant trauma. In addition, we will discuss the political dynamics of an urban school district where change and success are difficult to achieve. Lastly, we will discuss how working closely with an urban school district has transformed our graduate school program into a nationally ranked program that attracts students throughout the U.S. who want to work in urban schools.