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Board News

February 20, 2007


Tragedy Response Team

Schools and communities in Bluewater have recently experienced tragic events.  The loss of five students from Georgian Bay Secondary School left students, staff and community struggling to cope. Michael Fleming, Drew Perry, Andrew McKean, Morgan Fitzgerald and Michael O’Hara were students whose short lives touched so many in such far reaching ways.   Last week, the team came together again to support the Peninsula Shores District School community respond to the death of Gene Solomon, a much loved grade 9 student from Cape Croker.  The Bluewater Tragedy Response Team provided a level of leadership and support in dealing with these traumatic situations that is unparalleled.  The Tragedy Response Team’s commitment and compassion provided comfort and reassurance to all of those affected by the tragedy.  

While these recent events are most present in our minds, the work of the Tragedy Response Team has been ongoing for many years.  The team’s purpose is to go to schools when a tragedy has happened to staff, student or community member involved with the school.  The process generally includes:
•     Staff meeting in the morning which outlines for staff some of the things they will encounter – supporting students while needing support themselves.

•     Going into classrooms where necessary to help students and staff deal with emotions, to help to develop the skill of grieving and to encourage students to go to the memory room.

•     A memory room is set up usually with a banner with messages from students and condolences to the family.  People write or draw to share their feelings and understand that they are supporting the family that is grieving.  Students can write a more extensive letter or picture to the family; materials are available for them to do that. A memory book is put together.  The banner and memory book encourages students that do not know how to help but want to; it encourages them to talk and share.  The banner and memory book are delivered to the families by administrators.

•     Tangible look-fors are given to teachers to watch for emotional issues with students and parents.  

Bluewater District School Board Tragedy Response Team Members are:  
Mary Kay MacKenzie, Principal, Beaver Valley Community School
Jill Francis, Educational Assistant, Georgian Bay Secondary School
Cyndy Tyndall, Elementary Teacher, St. Vincent-Euphrasia Elementary School
Kim Kearns, Elementary Teacher, Beaver Valley Community School
Mark Ozorio, Vice Principal, Kincardine District Secondary School
Liz MacPherson, Principal, Elgin Market Public School
Paul Hambleton, Principal,  Kinghurst Community School
Rosanne Gallinger, Principal, Hillcrest Elementary School

Through Mary Kay MacKenzie’s leadership, the Tragedy Response team has the capacity to deal with life’s most demanding challenges.  She has nurtured an environment where people have developed and extended skills in providing professional yet personal support to Bluewater colleagues.  The experiences this team has endured has created a special bond amongst the members which extends beyond their professional relationships.  It is so comforting to know that Mary Kay is one phone call away and once contact has been made, the plan that will follow will be respectful, appropriate and thorough.

Sincere thanks to Mary Kay and her team for their limitless dedication.

Submitted to:
Bluewater District School Board
20 February 2007
For more information please contact
Mary Anne Alton,
Director of Education

© 2013 - Bluewater District School Board