RCSJ professor provides awareness of childhood trauma resources

“I think that most people can agree kids are where we need to start," Felice said. “Kids are where the hope and the promise are."

Dr. Felice

​In Dr. Kate Tumelty-Felice’s world, children are the hope and promise for a better future, which is why the Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) professor of education and psychology actively searches for positive, impactful ways to reduce their trauma.

Felice, who prepared a list of tips on how students can mindfully find resilience during the pandemic, has a proven track record of consistently advocating for the mental, physical, and spiritual well-being of children. 

This summer, Felice continued her crusade, participating in the critical awareness campaign Actions 4 ACEs, “a statewide initiative to build awareness about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and the role adults can play in reducing the impact of trauma and helping children heal.” A current member of the program’s Community Advisory Board, she has worked at the College since 2003. 

“I think that most people can agree kids are where we need to start,” Felice said. “Kids are where the hope and the promise are. We can agree that if we can be proactive and help kids, it helps everybody’s future.”

Actions 4 ACEs concentrates on “stressful or traumatic events that occur before the age of 18. ACEs are common, and include events such as parental separation, experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect, or having a loved one attempt or die by suicide.” 

“My specific focus has been on how we can bring teachers and law enforcement together to help kids in their community,” Felice said. “Using their expertise in both agencies and finding that Venn diagram overlap of how we can help each other’s initiatives, ultimately, to help children.”

Coincidentally, Felice is not the only educator with RCSJ ties to participate in this program. Alumnus Angel Santiago, New Jersey’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year, is also a member of the Actions 4 ACEs Community Advisory Board.

“I was recommended by our NJEA union to fill in the role from the teacher’s perspective,” Santiago said, who was recently honored at the White House by Dr. Jill Biden, President Joe Biden and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

“The visual of teachers having a one-on-one conversation, sharing stories and making sure that our students understood that they will always have someone to support them was a powerful image I wanted to convey,” Santiago, a fifth-grade elementary school teacher explained.

“It’s interesting to see when you bring action-oriented people together, there’s a lot that can be done,” Felice acknowledged. “Like Angel. He’s an amazing teacher and he’s got this platform right now to share his story, expertise, and passion for helping kids. That’s awesome. He’s awesome.”

Tammy Murphy, wife of Governor Phil Murphy, lauded the collaborative’s efforts in helping to lessen the effects of childhood trauma at the Actions4Aces virtual campaign launch in June. 

“I am humbled and honored to be a part of this work and with this group,” Felice revealed.

Felice’s passion for uplifting the well-being of children extends to her students at RCSJ. She thoroughly enjoys her time as an educator and is aware of the unbreakable bond the College maintains within the community.

“I think that there is nothing I would rather do than be a part of RCSJ as opposed to anywhere else because it’s not just an institution for education, it’s a community institution. It’s a community connector,” said Felice. “I see teaching as more of a mission than a job. It’s a privilege.

“The most rewarding work I could ever do is being a part of other people’s challenges and trying to find growth and hope in those challenges. I’m so grateful to have that opportunity to be trusted by my students and the community.”

​For information about RCSJ’s Psychology program, visit RCSJ.edu/Nursing/Psychology. To learn more about Actions 4 ACEs, visit action4aces.com.