By Katrina Schwartz
It was lunch time at Marysville School in Southeast Portland when the fire broke out. Teachers quickly herded their students out of the building to the sports field behind the school as the old colonial-style building burned. The fire that traumatized students and staff alike was in 2009, when Lana Penley was in her second year as principal. The 460 students and 50 staff members of the K-8 school relocated to a vacant school building in another part of Portland, displaced from their school site for three years as the district rebuilt the Marysville building.
“We were already a school that struggled, and then adding [the fire] on top of it, we really thought we needed to find a social and emotional curriculum that connects to the heart to overcome our trauma,” Penley explained. When the school reopened, Penley and her staff started using the MindUP curriculum, developed by the Hawn Foundation (founded by the actress Goldie Hawn), to try to address underlying trauma both from the fire and from the daily poverty that many students face.