Reflections on Implementation of the PREPaRE Crisis Prevention and Intervention Curriculum

Article excerpt

After a nationwide search, the NASP PREPaRE Workgroup recently invited Brian Lazzaro, Christina Conolly-Wilson, and Melinda Susan to join the workgroup. This was done in an attempt to meet the ever-increasing demand and associated duties that accompany the dissemination of the PREPaRE Crisis Prevention and Intervention Training Curriculum. In this article our newest workgroup members introduce themselves to Communiqué readers and provide reflections regarding their first-hand crisis experiences and utilization of the PREPaRE curriculum at the local level.

- Melissa A. Reeves 8c Stephen E. Brock

My name is Brian Lazzaro and I am happy to be able to contribute as a new member of the NASP PREPaRE Workgroup. As you may already know, the PRE- PaRE crisis curriculum has been developed by NASP to provide an evidence-based resource that helps schools prevent and respond to school crises. One of my goals in becoming a workgroup member and PREPaRE workshop trainer is to train as many interested school personnel as possible. In doing so, I hope to create a nationwide network of trained and well-informed educators that understand the importance of prevention programming and effective crisis interventions. In my work as a PREPaRE workshop trainer I have specifically targeted school psychology training programs because I believe it is important for new school psychologists to have this training as they enter our nation's schools.

Many times, my graduate students have asked me why I am interested in the area of crisis response. I tell them that, historically, there has not been a tremendous amount of emotional support for people who have been victims of crises. I am very happy to see that this is no longer the case in our society. The phrase often stated by the media, "Counselors will be available for students," was not always as familiar as it has now become. The PREPaRE curriculum teaches that most people will recover naturally in the aftermath of a crisis; however, there will inevitably be some who feel overwhelmed and will need extra support.

Recently, I attended a training session at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. As I was walking to my car I passed by Cole Hall where six students were tragically shot and killed and 18 students were wounded last February 14th. The only reminders of what had taken place there were a single rose slipped through the handles of a door and a grieving student sitting on a nearby park bench quietly reflecting. Bearing witness to the aftermath of such tragedy motivates me in my work.

My first deployment as a crisis team member was to assist firemen, policemen, and other workers at Ground Zero during a week in December 2001. Since then, I have remained active on local crisis assistance teams respondingto student tragedies involving fatal car accidents and other similar student crises. Over the years, perhaps the biggest lesson that I have taken away from my experiences is the value and importance of prevention. Prevention programming in schools is paramount. At the end of a PREPaRE workshop I like to challenge the participants and ask them what they plan on taking back to their district to make their schools safer. More specifically, I ask them: "Can you improve the climate of your school?" and "What issues are your schools dealing with and what programs might be implemented to address these issues?" Our goal is to make all of our schools safer places where we can nurture students' natural curiosities, growth, and learning.

There has been a proliferation of research disseminated in recent years regarding school crisis prevention and intervention. In my experience, the primary authors of PREPaRE - Stephen Brock, Melissa Reeves, Amanda Nickerson, and Shane Jimerson have expertly crafted the current curriculum. The information was synthesized to deliver a comprehensive and standardized experience where participants walk away from the workshops with a solid foundation for crisis prevention and intervention work. …