Tevis Haynie, Senior Office Assistant at Tennessee State University

Ms. Tevis Haynie, MS. M.A., has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (P4-5) from Western Kentucky University, holds a Master’s in human Behaviors/Services from Capella University, and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership with two certifications in Professional Performance Coaching and Global Leadership from Lipscomb University. With 23 years vested in education, she has spent the majority of her time in early childcare and elementary education as a director, assistant director, and teacher. Ms. Haynie currently is the Founder and CEO of Sivet Empowerment LLC and (Grace & Love) Maternal Health Services. As a coach and servant leader, Ms. Haynie has helped to support and advocate for early childhood educators, children, and families. In addition to changing the trajectory of the early care world, she is a birth doula working to empower and advocate for the physical and mental health of mothers and babies. Currently, Ms. Haynie is the Co-host of two podcasts, Real Talk Monday, and Crucial Church Conversations.



As the world continues to evolve and families continue to grow our school systems and educators must be intentional to keep up and catch up with the mental health of all in their care. While we often hear about different disparities within urban communities when talking about ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and now PCEs (Positive Childhood Experience) I believe (like many others) that PCEs can counter ACEs. Once it was believed that only children coming from low-income homes were affected by ACEs, however, studies have shown that ACEs are higher in populations with a history of mental health conditions, substance abuse, or addiction as well as low-income households.

As an educator my goal has always been to make sure my space is safe and that I love all children and their families no matter who they are or where they come from. As a mother and educator, I have always wanted to make sure I build resilience in children. As I began to learn about ACEs, what they are, and how they can influence children through adulthood it was important for me not just to discuss the children who may be suffering from ACEs but also the teachers who are instructing these children. Being allowed to interact with people of all socio-economic backgrounds, ACEs and PACEs are everywhere.

What are protective factors? They are attributes within a community(classroom), individual, or family that can help people understand and manage stressful situations more effectively, making problems or issues less hard in families and communities. This is reducing adversity’s impact and helping individuals learn how to get back on track and move forward. Some protective factors that families and educators should consider are parental resilience-bouncing back to move forward, knowledge of child development, and being in tune with how children grow. Children and adults’ social and emotional competence in their lives teaches them how to have healthy relationships. Nurturing and attachment when adults ensure children feel loved and safe. These are just a few.

What is Trauma? According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is defined as an emotional response to a terrible event. Following the event, going through shock and denial are normal responses. Some of the long-term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships, and even physical symptoms like headaches and nausea. Trauma is unique and can look different in children compared to adults and in some cases could be visible or invisible. A person’s age can play a major part in how they are affected by trauma. The younger the person the more vulnerable they are to the negative effects of trauma. As a person ages the way they cope with trauma changes. Perception of the danger will be viewed and managed differently and being a survivor or a witness will also have a different response.

As we look more into ACEs, we understand that the more trauma and adversity during a person’s childhood, the more extreme their risk of having negative impacts on how they function and develop. ACE is a study that was done to connect the similarities in childhood trauma and adversity as well as health and well-being across a person’s lifespan. In the study, there was a clear connection between childhood trauma, mental health, substance abuse, education, and a person’s physical and medical well-being. All forms of abuse and household dysfunction were viewed in the beginning, but as time moved forward other things were put into consideration such as if a person witnessed or experienced abuse or violence in the home as well as in the community or school. Any experience with racism or discrimination, homelessness, food insecurity, separation from a caregiver, death of a caregiver as well as illness or injury of a caregiver. All of these affect the mental well-being of people and have a much greater effect on children in a positive and or negative way that can last a lifetime. The effects of this adversity can range from physical illness, mental illness, substance abuse, mental well-being, potential for violence, victimization, and how one may work and act in society.

When I think about building resilience that means that I have access to provide children with the support, services, and health resources that will support a child in their success within their family and their community. Learning to cope with stress is especially important when it comes to developing resilience. Children having healthy relationships and a great support system will help them to manage positive stress and it enhances their personal growth. Building resilience can come at any time and at any age. Research has identified that resilient children will have at least one supportive adult relationship, self-efficacy, and control. Opportunities to strengthen skills to adapt and learn how to self-regulate and their faith, hope, and cultural traditions will be stable.

As an educator or parent helping to build resiliency in children is encouraging them, letting them know that you appreciate them, and pointing out their strengths. Be an example by being kind and of service to others and be active in your community. Remember the importance of health, rest, and eating habits. A child’s biological factors will contribute to their physical and mental health as well as their temperament. Making sure the classroom and home environment are safe, clean, and organized. What is your teaching style, how do the parents engage, and what are the discipline methods? Is there structure or consistency? When a child’s basic needs are met there will be an increase in how the child will positively manage daily stress and intense events. If the environment is unhealthy or unsafe it will be hard for the child to meet expectations in any environment.

When discussing Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs) it is important to know that children experience the world through their relationships with their family and other important people in their lives. Children thrive when they are in an environment that is nurturing, safe, and stable. These are the important aspects of PCE. The goal is to have a focus on strengthening the base away from ACEs. Remember ACEs are negative events that take place in the initial stages of life. PCEs are the experiences that will enhance a child’s life and have positive results physically and mentally. A study led by Johns Hopkins in 2019 concluded that “PCE can counter the damaging effects of adverse experiences.” There is a connection between a child’s positive experiences and the adults they are around mental and emotional health. The brain is shaped by all experiences whether positive or adverse, but the positive experiences are what is most important in influencing health and wellbeing throughout the lifespan.

Children who are engaged with others and are a part of activities in school and out of school have higher rates of resiliency and lower rates of chronic disease. Healthy connections with others enhance their social connections and increase their self-esteem. An educator and family must encourage positive relationships, create a positive culture of friends and value learning, and a parent who values education and school. I know from personal experience that feeling a sense of belonging in school helps build social connections.

The goal is to continue to incorporate PCEs with or without ACEs because the benefits are far greater. Creating PCEs is what gives a child more resilience, in families, communities, and the classroom.


Hodas, G.R. (February 2006). Responding to Childhood Trauma: The Promise and Practice of Trauma Informed Care. Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. https://www.nasmhpd.org/sites/default/files/Responding%20to%20Childhood%20Trauma%20-%20Hodas.pdf

Head Start ECLKC. (November 22, 2021). Trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Head Start ECLKC. https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/publication/trauma-adverse-childhood-experiences-aces

Longhi D, Brown M, Fromm Reed S. Community-wide resilience mitigates adverse childhood experiences on adult and youth health, school/work, and problem behaviors. Am Psychol. 2021 Feb-Mar;76(2):216-229. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33734790/

Resilience Research Centre. (2022). CYRM and ARM user manual v2.5. Halifax, NS: Resilience Research Centre, Dalhousie University. Retrieved from https://cyrm.resilienceresearch.org/files/CYRM_&_ARM-User_Manual.pdf

Allen, K. (2019, August 9). 5 Ways to Boost Students’ Sense of School Belonging.  Monash University.  https://www.monash.edu/education/teachspace/articles/5-ways-to-boost-students-sense-of-school-belonging


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