The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 2, 2013

Sandy Hook students, teachers head back to school

(Continued)

Teachers are returning as well, and some have already been working on their classrooms. At some point, all those will be honored, but officials are still working out how and when to do so, Robinson said.

"Everyone was part and parcel of getting as many kids out of there safely as they could," she said. "Almost everybody did something to save kids. One art teacher locked her kids in the kiln room, and I got a message from her on my cellphone saying she wouldn't come out until she saw a police badge."

After the evacuation, teachers grouped their children at a nearby fire station, Robinson said. One sang songs, while others read to the students, she said.

Julian Ford, a clinical psychologist at the University of Connecticut who helped counsel families in the days immediately following the shooting, recommended addressing it as questions come up but otherwise focusing on regular school work.

"Kids just spontaneously make associations and will start talking about something that reminds them of someone, or that reminds them of some of the scary parts of the experience," Ford said. "They don't need a lot of words; they need a few selective words that are thoughtful and sensitive, like, 'We're going to be OK,' and 'We really miss this person, but we'll always be able to think about her or him in ways that are really nice.'"

It will be important for parents and teachers to listen and be observant, Ford said.

"Each of the boys and girls are going to have different reactions to different aspects of the environment, different little things that will be reminders to them," he said.

Parents might have a harder time with fear than children, Ford said.

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