The teacher had been murdered by her husband earlier in the week, and the school had gathered the staff to notify them. School officials then had to notify the parents, as they didn’t want them learning about the incident from the news or social media.
A few of the staff had socialized with this teacher and her husband outside of work, and her husband had done some ad hoc trainings at the school. No one had seen any signs of trouble or discord in the marriage during the time they spent with the couple. Nor had this teacher ever mentioned any issues of fear or violence in the marriage.
Given that I had a significant amount of expertise in the areas of domestic violence and death in the workplace, I was asked to staff this assignment. It was highly sensitive given the violent nature of this teacher’s death.
By the day I arrived, many of the staff had processed the incident with their colleagues, family, and outside counselors, so they had less need for structured therapy. Given that teachers are in and out of class, I decided to be available between classes for quick check-ins. I provided information on domestic violence, grief in the workplace, and how to handle the children’s questions about the sudden absence of this teacher.
Not all of the teachers requested information on grief or domestic violence. Thus, I offered to provide stress-management techniques and any other coping tools needed. I was stationed in the break room, and I attempted to intervene with each teacher during their brief break.
After the assignment concluded, a supervisor of the teaching staff said they were glad to have someone on site “just in case” someone needed assistance.
In this case, the workplace was not aware that one of their staff was at risk. What if an organization or company is aware? I will address that in next month’s blog post.