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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 19. In Mike’s Words



“Oh, Melissa … it is so hard to hear it from her.” Janice said as she was crying – I could hear the sobs over the phone.

“I understand. It was the same feeling for me. She went through so much.”

“What about the other participant, Mike? Are his words as hard to hear?”

“That’s hard to answer. Yes -and no. Like we did with Melissa, I’ll just have you hear his words.”

Mike Dougherty: Husband and Teacher

Becoming a Teacher

I graduated from college and then substitute taught for a while. After I finished my Bachelor’s degree, which was in History and Social Sciences, there weren’t any jobs. I substituted for a while for a year. Principals would look at me and say, “Well, I’d hire you if you were a Math teacher.” So I went back and got my Math certification. While I was working on my math certification I went to work fulltime in middle school, including a stint as a teacher of the gifted and talented.

After that I went back and got my Master’s degree in Latin American studies. Next I taught in high school, and then taught on a satellite network for a couple of years. It was one of the first ones there was. When I was teaching on the satellite network, I finished up my teacher certification in Computer Science.


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