How Michigan educators are talking to students about the Oxford school shooting

This week's shooting at a Michigan high school was the deadliest school shooting in three years and has led to fear, anger and anxiety at school districts around the state. And so have closings in dozens of schools because of threats and out of an abundance of caution. Our Student Reporting Labs and colleagues at Detroit Public TV talked to educators about how they are talking to students.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    This week's shooting, the deadliest school shooting in three years, has led to fear, anger and anxiety in school districts around the state of Michigan.

    And so have closings and dozens of schools because of threats and out of an abundance of caution.

    Our Student Reporting Labs and colleagues at Detroit Public TV talked to educators about this week and how they are talking to students.

  • Mike Conrad, Teacher:

    National news is hearing about Oxford. They heard about Parkland. They heard about Sandy Hook.

    The story that's not out there, and I think a lot of people don't know about, is the story of the surrounding communities and how an event like Oxford High School's shooting is affecting more than Oxford.

  • John Forlini, Teacher:

    My wife, everybody, we all, like, took that moment to be, like, wow, I can't believe this happened. It is happening very close.

    It's something you always see on the news, but now you see it, and you're like, wait a minute, I know that building. I see people I know.

  • Carrie Wozniak, Superintendent, Fraser Public Schools:

    And we have all been just deeply, deeply touched by this. And it's going to take some time to heal. And I think the best thing I can do right now is listen to people and to help them feel their feelings. So many people are angry.

  • Jamie Flanagan, Teacher:

    Throughout Michigan, at many schools in the tri-county area, there were threats of violence in other schools. And so kids stayed away. Many schools in the metro Detroit area were closed today.

    Superintendents called off. We were in session, and attendance was at 50 percent, at best. So, but for the kids that were here, we're here to support them.

  • Randy Stewart, Teacher:

    The easiest way for me to process this is not to ignore it, but just to full steam ahead in regards to what my job is here.

  • Mike Conrad:

    Students want to talk about it. They want to voice their opinions about it. They're being very smart about it. They are having pretty profound conversations. They're following facts. They're not following the social media hype or rumors.

  • Dorothea Williams-Arnold, Teacher:

    We have talked a lot about how important it is for them to help each other feel safe by paying attention to those loner students or the ones who are a little bit more quiet.

    We had some group activities going on this week, and I noticed they seemed to be a little bit more open to paying attention to those kids who didn't have a group, who weren't selected for their own group. And I too have been encouraging them to just kind of open up and pay attention to the kids around them.

  • Carrie Wozniak:

    I can't tell you how many people I have talked to over the past few days that started off really angry or mad about something, and, in the end, they really — it wasn't about being angry.

    It's about the fact that they are so sad and almost scared for what might have happened to their own child. And that's really touched me. So I think we just have to be really compassionate right now, and just listen to one another and be kind, and, more importantly, have some grace, because that's what people need right now.

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