Hampton City Schools moves forward with crisis team to help staff deal with school shootings, other trauma

Posted at 11:27 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 08:24:01-04

HAMPTON, Va. – The recent rash of school shootings is causing shockwaves across the country. Parents, students, and staff are in disbelief over the violence.

The latest shooting happened Wednesday morning at a high school in Arlington, Texas. Community members can’t soon forget last month’s shooting at Heritage High in Newport News. The traumatic event left behind emotional scars.

“They lived it,” said Charles Schesventer, a community member. “They experienced the abnormal situation which seems to be more normal throughout the United States.”

That’s why Hampton City Schools has formed a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team that puts the power in the hands of employees with mental health backgrounds

The crisis team is made up of school counselors, nurses, security officers and other workers. Several employees began training this past summer, and the plan is to add more team members. The team’s goal is to help their co-workers cope with traumatic situations, including school shootings, that happen inside their classrooms and community.

“We all need it,” said Hampton School Board Chair Ann Cherry. “We all connect, and at some point, whether we admit it or not, we all have had individual traumas.”

After a crisis, including a death of a co-worker or student, severe violence, or accident, the team will swoop in, helping to strengthen and heal their emotional wounds.

“It’s certainly going to benefit our teachers, as well as benefit our students, and overall benefit our community,” said Hampton School Board Vice Chair Dr. Richard Mason.

Community members said the crisis team is not only a good idea, but one that is needed.

“We sort of have traumas that happen a lot in Hampton Roads for various things, various topics, various things that can cause concerns to kids, and adults too,” Schesventer said. “In a school system like this, we need to be prepared to treat it.”

More than 40 employees have been trained for the crisis team so far. The school board will now move forward on how to implement the concept in the schools