“Our kids come into my YPH classroom from trauma, whether it is from physical or sexual abuse, homelessness, or perhaps they were placed into foster care by their biological parents. Eventually, trauma plays out with behavior,” said Jennifer Teleha, a tutor with the Youth Partial Hospitalization Program (YPH).
The children come into her world beaten, broken, and disheartened but they soon realize they are loved. Teleha begins her day with elementary age kids providing academic support and then her afternoons are spent working with the older kids. Often, the academic piece is way down the list of needs for the children. Only after the child truly feels comfortable will something like looking at a book take place.
“Trauma informed care, understanding the different stages of trauma and how it affects people, particularly children is a specialty,” Teleha said. “Step one is getting them settled and letting them know they are safe and they can trust you.”
Teleha should know more than most on the topic. She is a survivor of trauma. Helping others navigate through it is her mission.
“I can identify. I want them to see how to be resilient, how to keep self-esteem up, and how to make good choices under the pressure,” Teleha said.
The former Taco Bell manager knew she had a calling. It took her awhile to answer but she has landed right where she is supposed to be. She holds a degree in history from Wright State and had dreams to teach at the collegiate level. But then her calling just wouldn’t let go. So, she enrolled at the University of Dayton, earned her Masters is Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Intervention with a reading certification.
“I know it’s important for those victims of trauma to know they have someone to walk with who has lived on some level their experience, who loves them and who is there for them,” Teleha said.
She points out the folks at South Community are wonderful in what they do. Half the day in therapy with them and then half the day in class with Teleha is a typical day for students at YPH. Teleha is right in the thick of it day in and day out and it’s right where she wants to be.
“A high school teacher helped get me through trauma showing me how to overcome my situation by teaching me how to respect myself, maintain my dignity”, Teleha said.
The mother of four, practices meditation regularly. She does not believe in coincidences. Her landing on her mark may have taken some time but she knows why she is here.
“First and foremost I am a child advocate,” Teleha said smiling as she glanced at a student quietly reading in her class. “I can be their voice. It’s about human dignity. I’m meant to be here.”