Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures
Helping Students Cope with Trauma and Loss: Online Training for School Personnel with Helene Jackson, Ph.D.
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This course was edited by Sharon Kay. The project was developed by the Columbia University School of Social Work with support from the Bank Street College of Education.

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Self-Care for School Personnel

Following the Columbine school shooting, students find comfort in each other.
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School personnel will be affected differently by trauma, depending on the characteristics of the trauma, their prior experiences, level of support, and the extent of their responsibilities during and after the traumatic event.


Case Study: Ms. Jones

One sunny autumn morning, Ms. Jones, a first-time teacher, heard what sounded like fireworks outside her classroom. She rushed to the hallway and quickly learned that a sixth-grade student with a gun had walked into the lunchroom and fired on several students and teachers before taking his own life. In a daze, Ms. Jones walked into the lunchroom and witnessed the horrible scene. In the following months, Ms. Jones' efforts were spent listening to students and their families as they tried to cope with their feelings of horror, anger, disillusionment, and fear.

Eight months later, Ms. Jones feels even more gripped by her own fear and grief. She does not eat regularly, is lethargic, and she can barely get out of bed each morning. She no longer feels secure or safe; she suffers intense anxiety every time she enters the school building. Her close relationship with her family has been undermined. She resents the pressure she must face to teach each day and questions the value of her newly chosen profession.

She can't get images of the disaster out of her head. Her sleep is often interrupted by nightmares of the shooting. She feels angry, betrayed, and resentful that she has not received recognition or support for herself. She wonders if her colleagues feel the same way, but there is never time to talk about it. She is embarrassed to share her feelings after this many months.


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