Local teachers focus on make kids feel safe

Posted at 8:09 PM, Dec 17, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-17 20:09:12-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)—Some local teachers say they’ve been struggling to get images of the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy out of their minds.

All weekend long they were worried about what to say to students at school, come Monday morning.

“While a part of me was thinking about the students and how I would handle their questions, a big part of me was thinking that I feel really safe coming here,” said Holton Elementary kindergarten teacher Aaron Garber.

All day Garber braced himself for questions. He was very surprised that not one student of his mentioned the shootings.

“I have not had a student mention it, but my own children did mention being nervous about coming to school,” he said. ”I just took extra time to reassure them that it’ll be fine.”

Although teachers say they experienced a range of emotions over the weekend, they were anxious to get to school Monday morning, hopeful to reassure students that school is still a safe place to be.

At Henrico’s Three Chopt Elementary, the tragedy is still top of mind for teachers.

Second grade teacher Lynne Thomas says all weekend she was sad and thinking about the shooting over and over brought her to tears. She knew tears would resurface once students started talking about it.

But, none did. Now Thomas and Garber say the number one goal is to stay focused, for the kids.

“I’ll make them know that I am here for them, to protect them and to let them know that nothing will happen to them,” said Thomas. “I felt that was my most important role today.”

In order to reassure parents that extra precautions are being taken security-wise, Richmond Public Schools sent out a letter to parents from Superintendent Dr. Yvonne Brandon.

At Holton Elementary School, Principal David Hudson said he too sent a letter home to parents explaining the lengths they’re going to in order keep children safe.

As for the teachers, Hudson says he gathered them all for a special meeting early Monday morning. There they discussed ways to help students cope with it should they have concerns.