Lusher Charter School Receives Assistance from Tulane and Walden Universities to Provide Healing Curriculum to Students in the Aftermath of Katrina

Minneapolis—February 20, 2006—Walden University’s and Tulane University’s School Psychology programs will collaborate with Lusher Charter School in New Orleans to establish a healing curriculum and support it with mental health services for coping with the trauma of Hurricane Katrina. The new K–12 charter school opened last month at the once-shuttered campuses on Willow Street and Carrollton Avenue.

Tulane and Walden, an accredited online institution, will work with Lusher administrators and teachers to develop a system of prevention and intervention services to meet the needs of students, parents and teachers as they navigate the emotional, behavioral and social issues that may arise. The cornerstone of the program will consist of a school-wide, teacher-implemented curriculum aimed at effectively dealing with stressors students may encounter as they transition back to their homes and communities. The need for a healing curriculum was identified early on by a school social worker, who was instrumental in the development of the curriculum.

“During this transition, New Orleans students will face many challenges stemming from Hurricane Katrina, including personal loss, displacement, family separation and coping with changes in their school and social environments,” said Bonnie Nastasi, Ph.D., director of the School Psychology program at Walden University. Dr. Nastasi has been instrumental in developing and implementing the healing curriculum used at Lusher.

The curriculum will focus on enhancing coping skills, identifying and utilizing social support, enhancing emotional awareness and vocabulary and helping students create meaning and coherence from the trauma of the recent months.

The curriculum, which spans 12 weeks, is designed to incorporate a variety of subjects and teaching approaches and will have built-in teacher training, support and consultation. There are a total of 21 undergraduate students from Tulane, Loyola and Xavier universities serving as classroom assistants during the implementation of the healing curriculum. Additionally, working alongside the school’s two social workers, Walden and Tulane faculty and doctoral students from the Tulane School Psychology program, will provide ongoing support and direction.

“We are looking forward to working with the teachers and staff at Lusher to establish a truly collaborative approach to address the mental health needs of students during this difficult time,” said Dr. Overstreet, director of the School Psychology program at Tulane University. Graduate students in the School Psychology program under the supervision of Dr. Overstreet will offer individual and group therapy services, and a referral process will be set up with the school social workers. Students presenting with post-traumatic stress symptoms will receive the highest priority for assessment and treatment. The program will also identify community service providers as needed to meet referral demands.

About Walden University

Since 1970, Walden University has offered working professionals the opportunity to earn advanced degrees through distance learning. Today, this comprehensive, accredited online university offers master’s and doctoral degrees in education, psychology, management, and health and human services, as well as master’s programs in engineering and IT and bachelor’s completion programs in business. For more information, visit www.WaldenU.edu.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association, www.ncahlc.org; 312-263-0456.