SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Southwest School Corporation leaders say when the tornado hit Sullivan over spring break there was a lot of work to do to find out who was in town and who was impacted.
School leaders immediately went to work trying to locate students and created a master spreadsheet to stay in contact and help meet the needs of their kids.
Dani Hamilton, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Sullivan Elementary School, said that since the whole community is affected it’s all hands on deck at Southwest School Corporation.
“We’ve been telling teachers to allow the kids to ask questions,” Hamilton said. “So many people have questions. Adults have questions, so of course our kids have questions,” she added.
Hamilton said that responding to the questions with factual and true answers but keeping the answers simple and age-appropriate is important. She also said that it’s important that teachers and staff continue following up on those questions.
“To keep tabs on them,” Hamilton said. “What responses are appropriate or when do those feelings get too big or stay too long to where they may need counseling intervention,” Hamilton said.
Katie Couch, School Counselor at Sullivan High School says they are checking in with students individually.
“We also are trying to come in contact with families as well because we do have some families that their student said they’re not ready to talk about it. And they don’t want to talk about it,” Couch said. “And making sure that the teachers know that this is a student that has been impacted, they don’t want questioned on it,” she added.
Couch says she believes it’s important to let teachers know which students are ready for your loving embrace and which ones aren’t there yet.
When asked how the school community is doing, Hamilton replied, “I think that we’re doing well. Last week coming back was a little bit frantic because we wanted to be our best and do our best to support our kids. And with more weather coming through last week, you could tell kids were anxious,” Hamilton said. “But now coming back this week, I feel all the kids are settling in, getting back into their routine which is very important for them, I think kids feel best when they know what to expect,” she added.
“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Everybody is involved now,” Couch said. “But it’s where are they going to be when they go out for the summer. Where are they going to be when they come back in the fall. Because it’s not going to be over for them, when the lot is cleaned up. I mean this is going to be a long process and we’re just letting them know we’re going to be there for the process,” she added.
As students continue to open up about their experience and process what has happened, faculty and staff at Southwest School Corporation will be there to comfort students and guide them as they return to their new normal.