Sonoma County Office of Education

Renowned school crisis expert assists Sonoma County Schools

01/11/2018 -

SchonfeldDr. David Schonfeld, director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement at USC and nationally renowned expert on helping schools recover from disasters, presented a workshop for Sonoma County school district superintendents and other school leaders on Wednesday, January 10 at the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE). The presentation was part of a three-day visit to Sonoma County to consult with school districts and SCOE experts and help Sonoma County schools recover from the North Bay Firestorms.

Dr. Schonfeld has trained and consulted with schools in the aftermath of some of the nation’s most traumatic disasters for children, including the September 11 attacks, the Sandy Hook shooting, and devastating wildfires. His work includes school-based research involving children’s understanding of and adjustment to serious illness and death. He has also conducted school-based interventions to promote adjustment and risk prevention.

The workshop for superintendents, "Supporting Students and Staff to Promote Recovery from Disasters," provided practical guidance for post-fire recovery. Specifically, Schonfeld used stories from his extensive experience responding to school disasters around the nation to address:

  • Supporting students who have been in a natural disaster
  • Secondary losses and stressors for students, staff, and parents
  • Crisis stabilization strategies within schools and school districts
  • Leadership strategies in times of crisis
  • Extensive Q & A time with school leaders

Dr. Schonfeld's visit was free local educators and made possible through support from the New York Life Foundation and other donations. In addition to the presentation, Schonfeld was available Tuesday through Thursday to provide school and district teams with personalized consultation and training by request. Some districts may continue receiving long-term support.

“Our county’s educational system has never been so impacted by a natural disaster,” said Steve Herrington, Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools. “Our school leaders have done a commendable job of helping students and staff through the first weeks and months after the fire.”

“However, we’re learning that full recovery for our schools and students will take months and even years. We are grateful that Dr. Schonfeld can now bring his expertise and insight to strengthen and sustain our recovery efforts.”

Watch the Full Presentation