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About the Project

​The TREP Project was launched in 2016 with a policy brief on the educational consequences of the chronic toxic stress of living in high crime communities. The TREP Project works to develop the individual and organizational capacity of educators and schools serving children growing up in neighborhoods that have high levels of toxic stress, such as violent crime, concentrated poverty, concentrated foster care involvement, and housing instability.

Join leading educators who are utilizing trauma responsive educational practices to ensure that schools can address the negative psychological, behavioral, and academic impact of traumatic experiences on student development.

TREP Project

Micere Keels

Founding Project Director

Associate Professor, Dept. of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago  more>>>


Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Team

Tynisha Jointer

TREP Consultant

Tynisha is a Chicago native and product of Chicago Public Schools. She is passionate about educating all children and building the capacity of school staff and leaders to utilize a holistic approach to supporting student achievement. She brings an array of experiences and expertise from years of providing direct supports to students and their families as a school social worker in charter and public schools, and in a behavioral health hospital. These professional experiences informed how she supported schools during her years in school district central office positions. Through her work with the TREP Project, she utilizes this wealth of knowledge to support schools in their efforts to ensure academic excellence for all students. 

Lauren Smith 

TREP Consultant 

Lauren Smith is a child psychologist with a specialization in trauma-informed and culturally responsive care. She is invested in ensuring quality mental health service delivery in low-income communities of color through direct care provision and research. In her clinical practice, she brings expertise in the treatment of child maltreatment and interpersonal traumas. Her research extends her clinical practice by utilizing a community research framework to explore methods of improving parent engagement in child mental health care across a range of settings. Through her work with the TREP Project, she utilizes this wealth of knowledge to support schools in their efforts to ensure academic excellence for all students. 

Emilia Szmyrgala 

Doctoral Student in Comparative Human Development & IES Fellow 


Ana Vasan 

Doctoral Student in Comparative Human Development & IES Fellow


Past Team Members

Jamilah D. Bowden

TREP School Coach

Jamilah is a practicing Licensed Professional Counselor and Master teacher. She has skillfully taught students from Kindergarten through college-age, focusing on brain-based strategies and best practices. As a mental health counselor and trauma specialist, her most significant work has been with survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and with families in the immediate aftermath of violent loss. She now brings together over 20 years of experience serving children and families in underserved communities.

Stacy Williams 

TREP Project School Coach 

Stacy Williams is a career educator who understands that children who are hungry, displaced, alone, experiencing loss, or afraid to play outside, have a hard time focusing on reading or math. As a School Coach with the Trauma Responsive Educational Practices team she holds a Professional Educator License, an MAEd in Trauma and Resilience, and draws on over 20 years of experience in K-12 settings to support educators facing this challenge. Prior to joining the TREP team, her career spanned preschool to adults, as an interventionist, classroom teacher, school administrator, district leader, instructional coach, and consulting on school improvement efforts with the Urban Education Institute. Her work and research interests have centered on addressing the needs of students of color.

Alexandra Ehrhardt

Research Assistant

Alexandra's research focus revolves around adolescence experiences in contexts with a specific interest in underlying biological implications. The TREP Project will continue to kindle her curiosity as she continues her education at Wayne State University beginning Fall 2020. 

Ebony Hinton

Doctoral Student in the School of Social Service Administration and IES Fellow

Ebony's research interests involve the dynamics of the school-community relationship in urban neighborhoods. She hopes to learn effective ways that schools can be responsive to critical community needs as well as develop partnerships to strengthen and maintain such efforts.

Hilary Tackie

Doctoral Student in Comparative Human Development and IES Fellow

Hilary’s research is centered around a desire to make schools into empowering places for youth of color and ensuring a positive sense of belonging in school. She is interested in how trauma responsive educational practices can be a method to support teacher-student


Nicholas Wilkins

Undergraduate Student in Germanic Studies

Nicholas has worked in education policy and organizing in Tennessee. He has also worked as a campaign manager and consultant for school board candidates. He is interested in how trauma responsive practices can benefit lower-income students.

TREP Project

Comprehensive School Safety Team

Uma Blanchard

Doctoral Student in Comparative Human Development and Committee on Education Fellow 

Uma has worked with youth in a variety of settings ranging from outdoor experiential education to school-based academic and executive skill coaching. Her research interests center on the diverse teenage expressions of distress and how youth development practitioners categorize and make sense of them.

MJ Harvey

Undergraduate Student in Comparative Human Development and Visual Arts

MJ is excited to help foster an equitable and supportive environment in American schools. She hopes to promote cooperative learning strategies so future generations are able to work and live collaboratively.

Alexander Koenig

Doctoral Student in Comparative Human Development and Committee on Education Fellow   

Alex’s research focuses on how newcomers are integrated into schools and exploring whether or not the school system interrupts or reproduces existing social inequality. Before starting his graduate studies, Alex was a fifth grade teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma and a school data officer in Boston, Massachusetts.

Isabel Schmitz

Undergraduate Student in Music and Comparative Human Development

Isabel currently teaches voice to students. She is interested in arts education and the integration of research-based psychology and neuroscience practices in music and education.

Cody Schwartz

Master's Student in Social Sciences, concentrating in Psychology

Cody's research has focused on technology-driven interventions to explore the neural mechanisms of literacy and understand the role of gesture in math learning. He's interested in schools as communities and believes that thoughtful approaches to the social, emotional, and academic needs of the most disadvantaged students is of paramount importance.

TREP Project
Matthew and Luann Jacobs Family Foundation
The Hymen Milgron Supporting Organization
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