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Teaching After Witnessing a School Shooting

Echoes of Gunfire

Edward Mooney, Jr.

Imagine the hours and weeks after you've witnessed a school shooting. You run the emotional gamut between disorientation and severe anxiety. When you return to the classroom, you're unsure how to cope. Your classroom used to be a safe space; is it still? In this book, the experience of two teachers before, during and after they witnessed school shootings are analyzed to determine the effects of these incidents on their lives. In one case, a teacher who observed a shooting of one student by another, struggled with severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her issues, along with actions by school administration, led to her psychological disability. In the second case, at a different school, another teacher watched a gunman randomly firing at students; he was able to continue teaching. A comparison helps to understand the psychological and organizational factors that affect educators who witnessed a school shooting.

This book would be critical in courses training school administrators, and for those teaching graduate research courses. In addition, this would be useful for mental health professionals and emergency responders seeking to get a glimpse into what teachers who witness school shootings are going through.

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Chapter 18. In Melissa’s Words



“So, going back to your research question, and my biggest interest because she’s my friend, what did Melissa tell you about what happened to her?” Janice asked.

“I think the best way to handle that question is to just let her use her words …” I responded.

Melissa McCarthy: Mother and Teacher

Becoming a Teacher

I’ve always loved being around kids, and I love books and writing, so a few years after my bachelor’s degree I decided to go back to school to get a teaching credential. I was very excited about being a teacher. That was after my second daughter was born, in the late 1990s. Like any other teacher, you go to classes, and it seems like it takes forever to finish. I had to do my student teaching, but I was very lucky in that I was able to do that while actually getting paid; that was possible because of a shortage of teachers at the time.

I taught junior high school that student teaching year, 7th grade English and honors English. After that I thought I might like to teach high school; I received a contract and taught 10th and 11th grade English. After I finished my student teaching, I’d thought, “After a year of junior high, maybe I would prefer older children.” Junior high’s a rough age to work with – the kids are going through so many changes in...

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