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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 27. The Last Time I Saw Melissa



“Thanks, Ed. That helps me understand the effects a lot,” Janice said.

“You’re welcome. If I’ve helped you, I’m thrilled.”

“When was the last time you saw Melissa?”

An Answer

My Story: A Final Reflection

As we closed our final interview, I felt a bit of emotion as I watched Melissa and her daughter walk in the parking lot outside. Her little girl was skipping along and showing an assortment of toys to her mother. I felt a smile coming on; that was nice, but the world and all of time seemed to slow down in the next moment. The flowers, blowing in the gentle wind, paused as I noticed a growing grin on Melissa’s face. Her daughter slowly, at least it seemed that way to me, held up a brightly colored doll, and Melissa reached for it, feigning to play with it. That smile, that moment of simple joy, gave me more peace than I can say. It was a moment of hope, a moment that indicated that this wonderful lady was healing.

As they disappeared around the corner, I noticed that my papers were neatly arranged on the table in front of me. Unknowingly, I had watched Melissa before me; I wanted to watch for some sort of sign that Melissa had a new life, one of hope. Watching those two happily walking together was, for...

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