Polyvagal In Schools

Establishing Felt Safety in Students and Staff for the Return to In-person Learning

June 1: Pre-Conference Workshop Day for School Leaders
June 2-4: General Conference
June 1-4:  Full Conference

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Education in 2020 and 2021
has proven significantly challenging for students and educators in the US and around the world.
Teacher burnout and student social and mental health struggles are at record high levels. There is abundant rhetoric about learning loss that fuels the collective overwhelm in schools right now.

This conference aims to counter the impacts of the past year by helping participants slow down; get centered, grounded, connected and supported so they can take intentional and deliberate actions to heal our schools moving forward.

Interact with Keynote Presenters Dr. Stephen Porges, creator of the Polyvagal Theory, Dr. Mona Delahooke, author of the critically acclaimed book, Beyond Behaviors, Ingrid Cockhren, national director of state and local initiatives to address ACEs for PACEs Connection, and Greg Santucci, occupational therapist and national lecturer on addressing sensory needs in the classroom.


PRICING (ticket sales end May 31, 2021): 

Pre-Conference Workshop Day for School Leaders, June 1 ($99)
Parent Ally / Parent Advocate, Full Conference ($99)
General Conference, June 2-4 ($199)
Full Conference, June 1-4 ($299)
Full Conference TEAM Rate (5 member minimum), June 1-4 ($199)


Join us for a unique experience in a virtual conference

Thoughtfully curated sessions assembled to take participants through a progression of rich Polyvagal-informed content featuring high-quality resources and facilitated dialog.

What this conference will deliver:

  • Understanding the Polyvagal Theory and how it applies in schools
  • Practical tools and strategies for building relationships and regulating physiological state in staff and students
  • An examination of the intersection of trauma-informed, anti-racism, and equity work in schools.
  • Instruction from educators, practitioners, and leaders experienced in applying these principles in school environments
  • Opportunities to participate in conversations with presenters and other attendees.

What you will gain from attending:

  • An understanding of the language related to this new paradigm in trauma-informed education, bringing needed clarity and intention to change efforts in your school community
  • Resources to readily apply what you’ve learned
  • An ability to recognize and challenge the reiteration of white-supremacy culture deeply embedded in ways educators have been taught to address behavior challenges in the classroom
  • Learning from the experience and insights of peers in education who have been on this journey
  • The opportunity to build connections and a supportive community with like-minded professionals in education
  • Our goal– to leave you supported, inspired, and better prepared to take on the challenges of the 2021-2022 school year!

Keynote Speakers

Stephen Porges

Stephen Porges

Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D. is the author of The Polyvagal Theory and has written several books about the theory and is published extensively in a wide variety of scientific journals. 

Dr. Porges is a Distinguished University Scientist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is founding director of the Traumatic Stress Research Consortium, a professor of psychiatry at UNC Chapel Hill, and is co-founder of the Polyvagal Institute.

Ingrid Cockhren

Ingrid Cockhren

Ingrid Cockhren is the Director of Cooperative Communities for PACES Connection (formerly ACEs Connection) and adjunct faculty at Tennessee State University. She has dedicated her professional life to investigating and educating the public about the link between trauma and possible negative outcomes.

Ms. Cockhren’s areas of research include: African American parenting styles, historical trauma, intergenerational transmission, brain development, developmental psychology and epigenetics.

Mona Delahooke

Mona Delahooke

Mona Delahooke, Ph.D. is author of the critically acclaimed book, Beyond Behaviors and a widely recognized pioneer in applying the Polyvagal Theory for the benefit of children in clinical practice and in schools.

Dr. Delahooke is a practicing pediatric psychologist with more than 30 years experience and a senior faculty member of the Profectum Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting families of neurodiverse children.

Greg Santucci

Greg Santucci

Greg Santucci is a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and the founding Director of Power Play Pediatric Therapy in NJ.  Greg has been lecturing nationally for over a decade on topics related to sensory processing, child development, behavior and best practice in the public schools. He has dedicated his career to promoting neurodevelopmentally-informed, relationship-based interventions to help parents and teachers support children of all abilities and learning styles.


Dellie Champagne

Dellie Champagne

Dellie Champagne is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the NH Children’s Behavioral Health Program. Dellie’s work includes education, outreach and relationship building with the community, stakeholders, and partnering organizations. Her efforts help to build a compassionate constituency of mental health advocates comprised primarily of children, youth and families.

Michelle Kurta

Michelle Kurta

Michelle Kurta is an educator, coach, facilitator working in the dynamic intersections between teaching/learning, healing, and justice. For over 15 years, Michelle has engaged in educational activism as a student, organizer, and teacher. Prior to becoming a trauma-informed practices coach for educators and school staff, Michelle taught English Language Development, Language Arts, and Psychology at the School for Visual Arts and Humanities in the LAUSD.

Matthew Portell

Matthew Portell

Matthew Portell founded the Trauma-Informed Educators Network FB page (with 26,000 members) and podcast.  He’s currently the principal at Fall Hamilton Elementary School in Nashville, TN.  Mathew’s school has been featured on Edutopia – Making Students Feel Safe – and he was recently awarded Principal of the Year for Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Bryan Clement, M.Ed.

Bryan Clement, M.Ed.

Bryan Clement, M.Ed. is the Director of Program & Partnerships for Dovetail Learning, Inc. and contributing author of We Are Resilient™. As a teacher, principal, and, as a lead trainer and consultant for social-emotional learning and resilience, Bryan’s passion is creating trauma-informed, healing-centered schools. Through his policy education work with the California Campaign to Counter Childhood adversity, he has pushed for systems reform and eliminating barriers to opportunity.

Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz

Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz

Rebecca Lewis-Pankratz is a consultant with ESSDACK, Her mission is to fight poverty. Rebecca has walked with dozens of families as they made it completely out of pOVERty. She sees pOVERty as the main driver for most social problems. She works with kids, parents, educators, and communities to get people out of pOVERty. Her key tools on her tool belt includes trauma-informed and restorative justice principles and relationships.

Amy Stoeber

Amy Stoeber

Amy Stoeber is a licensed psychologist in Portland, OR. Amy developed a curriculum regarding resilience and interventions to mitigate the effects of childhood adversity. Her current work is promoting resilience within systems such as schools, pediatric medical homes, hospitals, law enforcement agencies, and other multi-disciplinary teams.

Judee Fernandez

Judee Fernandez

Judee Fernandez  is an educator, facilitator and coach who recently worked as a resilience and trauma-informed practice coach for a national initiative focusing on school employee well-being. Judee is the co-founder of Meaning Makers Collective and is dedicated to creating an equitable world where people in under resourced communities have an opportunity to heal and thrive.

James Moffett

James Moffett

James Moffett received national recognition when, in 2016, as the principal of Derby Hills Elementary School in Derby, KS, he implemented a trauma-informed environment throughout the school and ACEs education for staff. Today, James is an education consultant and the principal of Faris Elementary School in Hutchinson, KS.

Jess Wojenski

Jess Wojenski

Jess Wojenski is the Community Engagement Coordinator & Training Manager with New Futures.  She is responsible for recruiting, training, and mobilizing advocates to participate in the legislative process. She also manages New Futures training program, organizing trainings statewide and consulting with community organizations to deliver customized advocacy trainings.

Conference Presenters and Hosts

Emily Read Daniels

Emily Read Daniels

Emily Read Daniels is the founder of HERE this NOW and the author of the new somatosensory and Polyvagal-informed approach to SEL
(Social-Emotional Learning): The Regulated Classroom:  “Bottom-Up” Trauma-Informed Teaching©.Daniels is an internationally recognized trauma specialist in the trauma-informed schools movement.

Lara Kain

Lara Kain

Lara Kain is an educator, consultant, and national speaker on implementing ACEs science and trauma-informed practices into schools and communities.  Her experience ranges from supporting individual teachers in the classroom to designing a trauma-informed schools pilot currently being implemented in 20 schools across the country.

Kristen Bernier

Kristen Bernier

Kristen Moberg Bernier is a communications and brand strategy executive who brings 25 years of experience in developing clear and consistent messaging for internal and external stakeholders.  Her background in healthcare and crisis communication, coupled with an understanding of the trauma-informed perspective, provide a unique insight into the challenges of effective organizational communication.

Conference Sponsors

Conference Partners

Conference Schedule


Felt Safety and School Leadership

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

11:00-11:15 AM EDT
Welcome / We Are SO GLAD You are HERE

11:15-12:15 pm EDT
HEALING LEADERSHIP / Michelle Kurta & Judee Fernandez

In this session we will hold space to explore the experience of moral stress and the dilemmas of power faced by school leaders. By prioritizing a felt sense of safety, we hope to envision possibilities for healing leadership.

12:15-12:25 Movement Break and Transition

12:25 – 1:00 pm EDT

Seasoned and nationally recognized trauma-informed principal Mathew Portell always says, “being a trauma-informed school is an ongoing journey. You never arrive.” In this session, Mat will share with us some of his failings as a leader and why leading from a place of vulnerability signals safety to his school community.

1:00 – 1:30 pm EDT

Experienced communication strategist, Kristen Bernier, will tell you that language matters. But it’s not just what we say, it’s how it’s delivered that either inspires trust, or recruits defense. Kristen will lead us through the barriers to effective communication and practical ways to conjure felt safety through our channels of communication.

1:30 – 1:45  pm EDT – REGULATION BREAK 

1:45 – 2:30 pm EDT

There are opportunities throughout the school day to connect with colleagues, students, and families and offer explicit cues of felt safety. Nationally recognized trauma-informed principal, James Moffett, will share some of his most practical ways of inspiring connection and cultivating a felt sense of safety in his school community.

2:30 – 3:15 pm EDT

Grief and loss are inevitable challenges of organizational change.  This has never been more true than in the wake of an ongoing pandemic.  In this session, Lara will guide school leaders in key considerations and actions to help their staff move through prolonged grief and loss experiences.  

3:15 – 4:00pm EDT

Dig deeper in a smaller group to discuss sessions and share your experience, wisdom, and challenges.


Systems Change: Shifting Paradigms

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

12:00 – 12: 15 pm EDT

12:15-1:00 pm EDT
KEYNOTE part 1: SOCIALITY-Coffee Klatch Discussion with Dr. Stephen Porges

Join a rich discussion between Emily Daniels and Dr. Stephen Porges about common misconceptions related to social behavior.  Schools are misinformed about the acquisition of “social skills.”  Dr. Porges will share his emerging concept of sociality to inform our practice for cultivating the social/emotional capacities of children and adults. 



The Polyvagal Institute is a not-for-profit dedicated to creating a new paradigm for health and wellness and THE resource for truly Polyvagal-informed training and resources, as presented in the work of Dr. Stephen Porges and the Polyvagal Theory.

1:20-2:00 pm EDT
KEYNOTE part 2:  BEYOND BEHAVIORISM / Dr. Mona Delahooke

Critically acclaimed author of Beyond Behaviors, Dr. Mona Delahooke, shares a Polyvagal perspective for managing classrooms. For too long, our schools have been operating with a heavy emphasis on compliance and control. Dr. Delahooke offers a different paradigm that equips classroom teachers with new ways of interpreting and responding to children’s needs.

2:00-2:10 pm EDT
Jen Doris / Bureau of Student Wellness:  NH DOE

BREAK – 5 minutes

2:15 – 3:00 pm EDT

Do you want to be an agent of change? In this workshop we will explore how to advocate for an issue at the state legislative level. We will take you through a successful advocacy campaign from start to finish, detailing various advocacy methods along the way, empowering you to create change in your own community.

3:00 – 4:00 pm EDT

Dig deeper in a smaller group to discuss sessions and share your experience, wisdom, and challenges.


CULTURAL CHANGE:  Centering Healing and Equity

Thursday, June 3, 2021

12:00 – 12:15 pm EDT
Welcome / We Are SO GLAD YOU are HERE

12:15 – 1:00 pm EDT
KEYNOTE: How Marginalized Children and Adults Have Been Impacted by COVID 19 / Ingrid Cockhren

It’s known that this pandemic and its aftermath hasn’t impacted all within a school community equally. In this keynote address, Ingrid Cockhren will explore with us the ways in which historically marginalized people and children have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and its aftermath and what this means in terms of cultivating safety and healing in our schools.


1:10 -1:20 pm EDT
TRICIA SCOTT / Beau Biden Foundation 

1:20 – 2:00 pm EDT

‘Vigilant Self-Awareness’ and Resilience Skills are essential for educators to create a healing and equity-centered school.  The We Are Resilient™ approach enables adults in a school community to hold the difficult conversations we need to have. By using Centering Skills and growing Relational Resilience between students and educators, a healthy school culture can flourish. Bryan is a speaker you will not want to miss. His lived experience, education, and wisdom–combined with infectious charisma–are why we sought to include him in our conference.

2:15 -3:00 pm EDT

How we address the collective stress of educators impacts the culture of our schools. Responding compassionately to teachers allows teachers to respond with intention to students. Dr. Amy reviews collective stress, how professionals are trained versus what they need, the dualities they face, and the shifts that build resilience. Together, we will learn how to create Circles of Support to mitigate the effects of collective stress.

3:00pm-4:00pm EDT

Dig deeper in a smaller group to discuss sessions and share your experience, wisdom, and challenges.


Classroom Implications

Friday, June 4, 2021

12:00 – 12:15 pm EDT
Welcome / We Are So Glad you are HERE

12:15 – 1:00 pm EDT
KEYNOTE: Sensory Processing, Sensory Validation, and Sensory Safe Classrooms / Greg Santucci

“Sensory” has become a buzzword in school. Since every bit of information we receive comes in through our senses, it makes “sense” to understand how a child’s sensory processing can impact their learning and behavior. Validating a child’s sensory preferences and partnering with them to create sensory safe learning spaces is a vital component for success at school. 


CAPEABLE / Marna Pacheco



In this experiential session, you will gain an introduction to the four core practices of The Regulated Classroom©. The Regulated Classroom offers educators a Polyvagal and somatosensory approach to regulating physiological state in themselves and their students.


2:15 – 3:00 pm EDT


We can feel powerless when kids present with the impacts of trauma in our classrooms. Many believe a student’s only hope is if experts come in to change them, i.e., psychiatrists or mental health professionals. Yet, when we look back on our own lives, professionals aren’t who helped get us through. We call people who helped build our resilience, Enlightened Witnesses. In this experiential session, participants will explore multiple strategies for change in their classroom.

3:00 – 3:30 pm EDT
Whole Group Reflection and Closing

A chance to reflect with the other conference attendees, ask questions and integrate new learning.  

Conference Guidebook

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