Death of a student

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by CiniMini, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. CiniMini

    CiniMini Rookie

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    Nov 30, 2013

    I just found out that one of my precious 2nd graders and her mother were killed in a car wreck tonight. Besides being heartbroken myself, I'm worried about the other 21. This has never happened in our small school. Does anyone have any suggestions/experience with this? Our school guidance counselor is the one who called and told me. She said she would help any way she could but I don't even know where to start. Please, all suggestions are welcome. I know this is a delicate topic and don't want to upset any children or their parents.
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Oh my god... I am so sorry. I'd suggest you strongly lean on your guidance counselor for help here. She will be the one best prepared to handle this. I've thankfully never had a situation like this, so I don't have anything better to say. My first "gut thought" is that you should say that "Suzie will no longer be with us physically, but she and her memory will stay an important part of the classroom."
     
  4. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    Nov 30, 2013

    This happened to me about 7 years ago. One of my second graders was killed in an auto accident over Columbus Day. PM me if you want.
     
  5. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    Nov 30, 2013

    I'm so sorry. Prayers for your class, this child, and her family.

    Since your kids are so young, do you think it would be best to contact the parents first? That way you will know if they have any concerns.
     
  6. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Nov 30, 2013

    This has happened at our school. We have a fabulous team that steps in and provides a 'script' of how to speak with our students so we are all giving the same message. Other schools in our division sent over support staff so teachers could step out if necessary and also to spend time with grieving children. It's a terrible situation, but the children will handle it like champs if you stay calm.
     
  7. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    The principal should be taking the lead in forming a support staff to help both the students and staff. Most districts have a plan in place. They should be helping you know what to say and how to say it, what activities to do, and the principal should write a letter to inform parents.

    I would contact the parents to show you care, have the children write cards to the family, and make plans to go to the service.

    My utmost sympathies. In my experience, this takes a long time to recover from.
     
  8. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Nov 30, 2013

    We had that happen last year, and they gathered all of the kids for an assembly to let them know the facts, and then had support staff available. I'm at a HS though so I know ES would be different.
     
  9. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    I have dealt with this issue too many times. Out P stepped in and took over the grief support.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I'm so very sorry. It's happend to me more times than I care to remember. It's brutal every single time. It's absolutely the worst part of teaching.

    Your school guidance counselor should be doing more than offering to help-- she should be offering some concrete ideas on getting your kids through this.

    One thing I have learned: At least with the older kids, some semblance of "normal" helps. I don't mean Holiday parties this week, but a "normal" math class and reading lesson might help divert their thoughts for a while. Don't make it anything vital; I'm not sure how much they'll retain. But the semblance or normalcy really does help some.

    My sincere sympathies.
     
  11. CiniMini

    CiniMini Rookie

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    Dec 1, 2013

    Thanks y'all. I'm waiting to hear back from our guidance counselor about what we are going to do specifically. Part of me was hoping it was all just a dream. This has completely devastated our school and community. The little girl's mom and 7th grade sister were also killed. Some of the sweetest people you'd meet. I love all my students but I really did love this one more. Just an all around good kid-smart, kind to everyone, respectful. And I haven't heard specifically but there was another child in the car who was airlifted to Children's and we think it was my student's cousin who is in the other 2nd grade classroom.

    It's kind of ironic that we had just gone over our school's safety plan on Tuesday during our faculty meeting and it includes what to do in the event of the off-campus death of a student. But it's so vague. And our principal is so NOT touchy-feely. He's no help.

    I figure most of the kids will already know and the ones that don't will probably find out about it before making it to my classroom. I guess my job will be to dispell rumors. Im going to keep them busy but just on review material. Listen to soothing music. Maybe do some art. Second grade was supposed to do DIBELS testing tomorrow. I refuse to allow them to test my kids tomorrow. Or the next day.
     
  12. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I'm so sorry. Sending hugs and prayers for you, your class, and her family.

    I've had 2 students lose a parent while in my class. They both reacted completely differently. Your students will probably process this in very different ways, some may cry, but I think many will withdraw or act out. I agree with Alice that keeping things as routine as possible helps. I think the counselor needs to step in and notify parents and come in to talk to the class. I also think you need an extra adult in your class for a while so you can comfort students as needed.

    http://www.thewarmplace.org/Resources/HelpforSchoolProfessionals/tabid/496/Default.aspx

    http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/...4389/2fa07dc5-0e85-4495-aa9c-2b31fd837ba1.pdf
     
  13. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    I am so sorry for all of your lose. Such a tragic thing!!! I know the school I subbed at lost a child over summer vacation due to car accident!!! The helplessness is just an awful feeling!!!

    You will all be in my thoughts & prayers!!!
     
  14. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    When we have gone through this, our principal always encourages us to keep going with the 'normal'. Your class will definitely be grieving and I think it's fair to hold off from testing for a couple of days. You'll want to have materials handy for students to express themselves - paper, pencils, drawing tools. They'll need lots of down time and opportunities to ask questions. But also encourage them to 'have fun' - it's okay to still enjoy recess, play time and friends. They don't 'always' have to be sad.

    When we have gone through tragedies like this, our admin calls every parent in the student's class to share the news. This way they can talk to their children before they come to school the next day.

    I'll be thinking about you & your class tomorrow!
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 1, 2013

    Count on it.

    Contact your guidance counselor. She should be in your room as soon as possible tomorrow.

    :hugs: to your school community, Cini.
     
  16. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I'm sending my thoughts and prayers to your school.
     
  17. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    No suggestions as I've never been through this, but my condolences go out to you, your students and the little girl's family. That's terrible. I would definitely make sure the school is going to have grief counselors on hand. Will the students already know the news when they return to school tomorrow? Since you said your school is small I'm thinking they might. If not and you have a guidance counselor, maybe have him or her present to help break the news.
     
  18. Ash Inc

    Ash Inc Rookie

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    I wish I had some advice to offer. This is truly heartbreaking. My deepest sympathies to you, the school, and of course the family.
     
  19. CiniMini

    CiniMini Rookie

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    I thought I'd let y'all know how it went. The other 2nd grader teacher, the guidance counselor, and I had called all the 2nd grade parents yesterday so they could tell their kids. We got up with most of them.

    After the kids arrived we sat on the rug and I broke the news to the few who didn't know. I read Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories. It's one of the kissing hand books. Almost exactly the same situation as we are in except the characters are animals. While I read I could hear my babies crying. I couldn't look at them because I was crying too. When I finished most kids were sobbing which sent me sobbing. We wrote down memories of the little girl and put them on her desk. I'm going to give them to her dad.

    By lunchtime they had moved to a new stage of grief-- the "I forgot how to student" phase. It was soooo irritating but I tried my best to be gentle with them. I know they're all confused with their emotions.

    Tomorrow a parent is bringing helium balloons. We're going to write letters, attach them to balloons and release them. Totally her idea. I love that parent.

    Today was the worst day I have ever had in the professional side of my life. Tomorrow will be better.
     
  20. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Hugs, CiniMini.

    We had a similar situation at our small school several years ago, but the student was not in my class. There were lots of cousins, close family friends, etc. throughout the school, though. We talked about it right away (thankfully I am at a religious school, so the pastors actually addressed it at our chapel service in the morning), then our class made cards for the family and gave them a chance to ask questions. I kept the next couple days a little lighter--lots of hands-on activities/investigations, games, movement activities, etc.

    You and your students will make it through this with lots of love and support from each other. Tomorrow will be better, but be prepared for it to sneak up on you (and the kiddos) at unexpected times over the next few days. Your whole community is in my thoughts and prayers.
     
  21. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I know what a brutal day today was for you. Tomorrow may be better, but there will be other brutal days. It sounds as though you did exactly what you needed to do today--for yourself and for your students. Many hugs to you.
     
  22. PinkCupcake

    PinkCupcake Cohort

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    I'm so sorry for your loss. Hugs and prayers for you and your students.
     
  23. raynepoe

    raynepoe Companion

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    Dec 2, 2013

    I am sorry for your loss. Prayers for you, your students, and community.
     

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