Forever In Our Hearts - Sandy Hook
Since December 14, 2012: that’s how long Clifford Beers has been serving the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.
Out of deference to the families impacted and out of concern for the community, it’s not something we talk about all that much. Still, we have made mention of it, and it is because of you that we’ve been able to continue to support those who need care. It seems appropriate, then, to share some updates with you.
Before that, on December 12, 2014 -- the same day 20 young children tragically lost their lives in their classrooms -- Clifford Beers was summoned to Newtown. Six of our providers traveled west to that community entirely unaware of what they’d be asked to do. As it turns out, late that evening those compassionate souls were asked to offer support to the families who lost their loved ones. Since that time Clifford Beers has worked to promote healing and resiliency to students, parents, teachers and the full Newtown community.
The work has not been easy, but it has had a tremendous impact. For example, consider the teachers. Those who experienced the shooting convinced themselves they were no longer good at their jobs. Clifford Beers Clinician David Cribbins, who continues to serve in Newtown, worked with those teachers to help them understand their experience.
Said David, “I told them -- I dispute what you say. I dispute that you are not a good teacher. We worked with them and kept repeating, ‘This may be a realigning of priorities, and you might not be doing what they told you to do in college to teach kids, but you’re better now than you’ve ever been because of what you’ve been through.’ ”
David’s respect for these teachers is evident. “These are teachers who came to work one day and experienced the unthinkable, and yet they haven’t skipped a beat showing up for their students,” he says. “They are the best teachers who could ever be.”
When David reflects on recovery milestones, he speaks of those early, quiet days when school resumed in January 2015. “There was a big push to keep everything calm and quiet,” he says, “but that isn’t natural. There were signs reminding everyone to close doors softly, but a door needs to sound like a door, and we worked through that to get to some normalcy.”
Today, the grade levels impacted by the tragedy attend Newtown Middle School, and it is a lively, bustling place. Like middle schools across the nation, a bell rings to signal the beginning and end of classes, and students shuffle between lockers and classrooms lugging books and backpacks. No, they are not identical to students who have been spared a tragedy like 12/14, but they continue to make advances and heal.
As a group, David reports that they are viewed quite favorably. “They are a very kind group,” he says. “They pull for underdogs, they’re highly social, and they make sure no one sits alone at lunch.” As individuals, David says they are appropriately establishing pathways of independence, and he sees a promising future for them.
Your support has made this all possible.
“These kids are connected to one another and to the community in many ways,” says David. “They received a lot of support from many agencies and organizations, and they absorbed that help. To say that these kids and families are exceptional isn’t going far enough. They went through this horrible, horrible thing together, but maybe because of that no one should be surprised if they end up changing the world.”