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As a retired educator and district lead mentor for the Beaufort County School District, I have had the privilege to be part of the professional growth and development of Induction teachers (first year teachers). One of the most impactful trainings beginning teachers receive at the start of the school year is the Stewards of Children child sexual abuse prevention program. In partnership with the Beaufort County School District, Hopeful Horizons facilitates this three-hour session as part of their prevention effort. This training began in 2007 with the inception of the Induction Program. To date about 1,500 teachers have been trained, approximately 140 teachers each year according to Donna Smith, District Lead Mentor.

The goal of Stewards of Children is to raise teacher awareness of occurrences of child sexual abuse. The training equips them to recognize, respond, and protect. Our teachers are deeply moved by this learning experience and thus become stronger, committed advocates for children with a greater understanding of how student learning can be hindered as a result of the trauma of abuse. They are more mindful and more confident in knowing what steps to take to protect their students when they recognize behavioral changes, physical symptoms and other potential red flags of abuse. They also learn the critical nature of their role as mandated reporters and the expectations that come with that role. Suzy Lange, District Lead Mentor, strongly believes this training helps teachers to feel the gravity and importance of the role of the teacher when it comes to the protection of children.

I commend the school district for their support of Hopeful Horizons, and encourage them to continue to lead the way in making a difference for the total well-being of our students. How fortunate we are to have Hopeful Horizons to be so involved in our community providing the necessary tools to teachers who are on the front lines. Together we are ending abuse and changing lives!

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