Teachers to discuss CT shooting "factually, honestly"

Matt Grant

Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Teachers to discuss CT shooting "factually, honestly"

CREATED Dec. 17, 2012

FORT MYERS - Students around southwest Florida returned to class for the first time since the shooting. And many children have questions for their teachers about what happened - which can be a very delicate subject for teachers to handle.

In some states, superintendents are giving teachers a script telling them what to do or say. In Lee County, it's up to the teacher as to how they want to handle this sensitive and emotional subject.

At Lee County School District headquarters flags fly at half staff.

"My heart goes out to those people," said school board chair Mary Fischer.

Fighting back tears, Fischer says she is still trying to comprehend Friday's shooting rampage that left more than two dozen people dead, including 20 children.

"As a parent and grandparent," said Fischer, "I was very upset and devastated."

In a memo, Superintendent Dr. Joseph Burke told staff: "Please be sure that counselors and social workers are available to assist students who may need assistance."

Fischer, who worked as a counselor for two decades, says teachers need to be honest with their students.

"Factually, honestly, you validate the kids' feelings," said Fischer. "And you reassure them that we do everything we can to keep them safe."

When dealing with such a sensitive subject, Fischer says the students' age is a factor.

"You respond to kids in an age appropriate way," said Fischer.

"Younger children, you find out what they know and validate their feelings," said Fischer. "The older kids, you provide the facts and then you let them know you're there to support them."

If a teacher is uncomfortable answering questions, Fischer says the school's counselors are available to help.

"We'll keep them in our prayers," said Fischer.

The National Association of School Pyschologists has posted guidance for teachers and parents on their website with tips on how to address the fears and questions students are facing right now, which Burke cited in his memo to the district's teachers.

Resources:

Lee Mental Health
David Lawrence Center

Mental Health Association of SWFL

Charlotte Behavioral Health Care
Aspergers Support Groups

Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com

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