SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 25, 2013

'We have to be strong for our students'

Danvers teachers face challenges amid the grief

DANVERS — Danvers High teachers are grieving — they lost a colleague, and one of their students is accused of killing her.

But through it all, they still need to support hundreds of young people who have been devastated by the tragedy.

“For us I think it goes a little deeper because it feels like a sense of betrayal for our mission as teachers,” said Christopher Hopkins, a history teacher who is head of the Danvers teachers’ union.

“We have to get over that. We have to be strong for our students and colleagues.”

Hopkins, who lives a few blocks away from the school, awoke to the sound of helicopters circling the school on Wednesday and wondered what was going on. It was news he never wanted to hear.

Yesterday he was back at the school, which was open so that grief counselors could help those dealing with the tragedy. Teachers and students tried to console each other the best they could, he said.

“There were a lot of tears,” Hopkins said. “We want to get the students back to a normal routine as soon as possible. They need that structure and order in their lives.”

Hopkins, who has taught at the school for 10 years, said there is a great atmosphere at the school with the renovation of the building and many young teachers. They need to maintain that spirit in the wake of the tragedy, he said.

“We have to give a positive message out of this tragedy,” Hopkins said. “This is a defining moment for us and we can’t let it be a negative moment.”

This is no easy task with growing issues revolving around school violence, such as the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults last year.

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