Trainer Spotlight: Kathy Tuthill

Q: How long have you been an Ukeru trainer?

A: I first became a trainer in April 2020.

Q: What population do you work with? What inspired you to get into this field?

A: I work with students who have serious and complex behavioral and educational challenges. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a teacher and I never swayed from that dream.  What I didn’t know at a young age was that I would land in the field of private day special education by chance, fall in love with the field, and remain there throughout my career (24 years so far). 

Q: What part of Ukeru do you enjoy teaching the most and why?

A: I enjoy teaching section IV: Trauma-Informed Approach the most.  After discussing the definition of trauma, its prevalence and how it affects the brain, I enjoy tying it together with our teams.  I enjoy the discussions around the four Rs (realize, recognize, respond, resist re-traumatization) and creating a trauma-informed environment for our students and team members.  I believe in the power of example and non-examples.  We’ve had some great discussions across schools in this area. 

Q: What would you say to someone who is unsure about using Ukeru?

A: Look at the data.  I believe in looking at the outcomes and analyzing the data.  Ukeru works when implemented with fidelity. 

Q: What advice or tip would you give to a new Ukeru trainer?

A: Be patient. Focus on coaching, encouraging, debriefing and retraining.  Build buy-in and commitment from your team.  It’s a change in the culture of your environment and that takes time.

Q: How has Ukeru impacted your life?

A: As a former Principal in our system, we implemented Ukeru in our school during the 2020-2021 school year.  We anticipated a 40% reduction in the number of restraints and seclusions.  In the spring of 2021, we compared our data with that of the previous school year.  We had a 98% reduction in restraints and seclusions, as well as in our serious incidents.  In the 2021-2022 school year, we implemented Ukeru across all of our schools in Virginia.

Q: What is your favorite quote or a motto that you like to live by?

A: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Q: What words would you use to describe Ukeru?

A: Building relationships, trauma-informed, solution-focused