Last night the father of one of my students was murdered. It was random, as if that is supposed to make me feel better. And he was sent to school today. WTF?? We were getting ready to start our day and he said "Mrs. Barker, guess what happened last night." I was half-listening as I passed out papers and checked agendas...."Did he just say his Dad was shot?" I asked him to repeat what he had just said. The cynical teacher in me was wondering if he had seen this on TV this morning and was somehow trying to understand it by making it his own...then the parent/mother cub/protective teacher kicked into overdrive. I hugged him and said let's go take a walk. I asked a colleague to keep an eye on my class and we walked together down to the office to find someone who could handle this way better that I could.
AT the same time my principal was looking for me because she had already heard, knew it was one of our kids, and knew he was one of mine. Not finding a counselor (or social worker, or mental health counselor--we have all three in house)...I headed to find one of our ESOL teachers. That was when my principal found me. Immediately she activated the Crisis Team from our school district and took the student back into her office. I headed back to class to check on the rest of my boys who were in mid-discussion about this, as many had either heard about it on the bus or in the car line.
Without going into much detail let me tell you this is the second time in 3 months that we have had to deal with a senseless death (an 8 year old student from our school had been raped and murdered in July by a 14 y.o. neighbor).
The crisis team came and talked to my class, the student was still at school when we went to lunch so he came and ate with us. And afterschool I made a home-visit to the student and his family (they were at an aunt's house) with our translator, an ESOL teacher and one of our counselors. My principal and the office staff kept a close tab on my class and I all day...for which I am very grateful. My Principal also insisted that I talk to one of the grief counselors. I am fine..I have not processed it all yet, so I am not sure when I will really deal with it...I just need to know that this boy is going to be okay...that is all I want for all my studetns. But his life is now changed forever...he will come back to school a diferent kid, beause now he has no Dad.
It certainly puts things in perspective...and make some things like handing in homework and having their agenda sign nightly, seem so trivial.