Jeremy Joseph, a Supervisor in the Social and Emotional Learning Division for the Montgomery County Educational Service Center joins Travis Nipper to discuss Helping Youth Who Have Experienced Trauma.

Listen to Episode 4

Travis welcomes our guest, Jeremy Joseph, who shares what the Montgomery County Education Service Center does (1:45)

Jeremy outlines his extensive experience and career path that brought him to his 23 years at MCESC in the Social and Emotional Learning Division (3:06)

A day in the life of Jeremy Joseph is trying to create ideas, strategies, and interventions with not only students with challenging behaviors, but all students everywhere to be intrinsically motivated and socially aware (4:15)

He shares his previous job as a “floater,” which meant he would go to scenario to scenario to verbally deescalate challenging behavior with students, and how that question of why has driven his mission (6:20)

He looks back to how he found success in classrooms not because of their strategies and models but because of the relationships they developed and the family environment they created (8:11)

Jeremy shares his experience gained from working with youth who have experienced trauma. He notes that he is a person who needs a foundational understanding of the issue, and in this case how trauma can be an individual experience that takes on many different shapes and sizes (9:15)

He then continues by discussing the stress response system and how an understanding of how that works with the brain can influence how they deal with challenging behavior in children (10:45)

Further, he talks about the importance of teaching specific skills to students to handling different elements of cognitive function (12:20)

Jeremy outlines the difference between “downstairs brain” and “upstairs brain” and how those states can affect action differently. He continues by discussing the goal to strengthen the staircase in the children’s minds to return to the “upstairs brain” where they are thinking and acting more rationally (13:30)

He relates this to how you teach students different skills when they are struggling with math or reading, but emphasizes that you cannot discipline a student out of these situations, but rather give them the tools to grow and understand their thinking (15:45)

Travis and Jeremy discuss Dr. Bruce Perry’s sequence of engagement, which is regulation, relating, and reasoning. Jeremy dives into this with specifics onto how they help students to feel safe and stay out of their “downstairs brain” through a family environment in classrooms (17:55)

He adds how lifechanging his transformation in thinking has been (20:40)

Adding more practical advice to parents and teachers, he notes that it is not simple. He discusses that it is a mindset shift from “what’s wrong with that kid” to “what’s happened to them and how can I help.” Furthermore, he notes that this mindset shift is essential in order to teach similar thinking to children (21:05)

Jeremy continues by saying that kids do well if they can, and that it is our jobs to give them the tools to do well (23:30)

Travis prompts him to speak about how universal this learning is and how patterned physical movement can be widely beneficial to activating brain activity as well as avoiding detrimental punishments (26:30)

He emphasizes how kids of all ages still want positive, silly, fun interactions that with allow them to feel safer and more energized despite today’s virtual environment (29:00)

Next Jeremy discusses the effect COVID-19 has had on his work. He shares that he had to step back and recognize the added stresses that it has brought to families. He adds that as educators our minds have to be on supporting the family during periods of prolonged stress such as this (31:05)

Pivoting to a focus on Grant Us Hope, Jeremy tells us how he first interacted with GUH through their prevention branch and how he was asked to give a professional development lesson to students as opposed to adults (34:13)

He continues with the students’ stress check-ins after this lesson and how it differs from the high stress moments of adults (36:15)

Travis and Jeremy then breakdown trauma. Jeremy notes that once again, it is an individual experience and can manifest itself in a variety of ways. He provides an anecdote of a student who was regularly quite angry, and how her thinking developed more and more over time with teaching her about self-regulation and “downstairs” and “upstairs” brains (39:00)

Jeremy notes how teaching this thought process to students can greatly strengthen the peer-to-peer support system that GUH has implemented. Helping students to understand what is going on in the brains of themselves and their peers can help them to become co-regulators and supporters (43:28)

Concluding with a mic drop, Jeremy shares that he wishes he would have known what he knows now 15-20 years ago, but he truly wants everyone to be a regulator. He wants people to grow their mindsets and further, he wants everyone to go out and grow hope like GUH and MCESC’s missions (46:24)


Jeremy Joseph, Supervisor, Social and Emotional Learning Division, Montgomery County Educational Service Center

Website: MCESC Social Emotional Learning

You can follow the podcast on Twitter at @GUHPodcast

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Upcoming Episodes

August 25 – “How Hope Squad Changes Culture” with Dr. Greg Hudnall, Founder, Hope Squad

Past Podcasts

July 28 – Diane Egbers: WHY Grant Us Hope, with Diane Egbers, Founder of Grant Us Hope

August 4 – Return to School Anxiety: How to Help Your Teen with Dr. Beverly Smolyanski, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center

August 11 – Changing the Culture of Your School for all Students with Suzanna Davis, Director of Programming, Grant Us Hope