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Sandy Hook Elementary – How to Support a Grieving Town and Nation

February 1, 2013 5 minute Read by Kerri L. Briggs

]The entire George W. Bush Institute family expresses its condolences to the people of Newtown, Connecticut -- especially the families of the 20 children and 6 teachers and school leaders whose innocent lives were cut short last Friday morning.  We grieve with Newtown and with the Nation. And as we grieve we ask why.  Why now?  Why a school? What we know is that our school communities will begin a period of healing and that it will take time for them to return to normal. The images of the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School will flash before our eyes for days, months, and years to come. In picking up daughters and sons from school, in dancing with a three-year old niece, while Skyping with a kindergarten-aged cousin and hugging a young brother a little longer and closer, we were more aware of the moment. The schools our children attend are thriving places full of young lives, dedicated teachers and school leaders, and hope for how our youngest generation will shape the future. Today, as we cautiously brought our children to school, we stayed watching for a while through the window as they played with their friends.  We held the gaze of their teachers for a few extra moments, whispered thank you and said a prayer for their strength and well-being.  We know family, friends and colleagues, parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and grandparents throughout our country did the same when taking their children to school today. As we grieve and wonder how such darkness could overcome a school of such happiness and hope, we can take collective and meaningful action to support those in this time of need.  It is one way to honor the lives of the six teachers and school leaders – Dawn Hochsprung, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Anne Marie Murphy, Rachel D’Avino and Lauren Rousseau – who did not think twice to sacrifice themselves to protect their students.  We are overwhelmed by the heroism of these six women.  They give us hope that good will always prevail, that light will always shine even in the darkest of times.  They are the reason we know we will overcome this tragedy. Perhaps we will never fully be able to answer the question why 20 innocent children, with their entire lives ahead of them, were taken.  But we can take immediate action. We can support both the people of Newtown and our Nation’s children as they begin to ask the important questions.   Please visit one of the foundations below.

  • The Sandy Hook School Support Fund: set up by the United Way of Western Connecticut, this fund will provide support services to families and the community.
  • Newtown Youth and Family Services: the nonprofit mental health clinic is providing counseling for families, community members and school staff.
  • A full and growing list of opportunities to support the people of Newtown can be found at CNN Impact.

If you have a child at home that is asking “why?” please know that there are resources to help answer that question.  Below is a list of resources to help with those conversations from the American School Counselor Association:

This post was written by the Education Reform staff at the George W. Bush Institute, including Kerri Briggs, Kerry Ann Moll, Patrick Kobler, Gina Rodriguez and Lindsay Wike.