Tennessee schools prepare
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Tennessee Schools PREPARE. Rene Love DNP, PMHCNS/NP-BC TPA Conference November 2012. Tennessee. Over 13 year period, 13 high profile community disasters including school shootings

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Tennessee Schools PREPARE

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Tennessee schools prepare

Tennessee Schools PREPARE


TPA Conference

November 2012



  • Over 13 year period, 13 high profile community disasters including school shootings

  • March 2005 – Cumberland City, Tennessee- 14 year old shot and killed school bus driver as she was carrying a bus of approximately 24 students

  • August 2005- Maury Middle School in Jefferson County- student is accidentally shot and wounded by a gun brought to school

  • November 2005- Campbell County Comprehensive High School in Jacksboro, Tennessee- a freshman student shot the school principal and two assistant principals- one of the assistant principal’s died as a result

Partnerships established 2005

Partnerships Established2005

Support for this project provided in part with funding from the USDOE, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program and funding from the Vanderbilt Community Mental Health Center

Collaboration for this project occurs between the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and the Tennessee Department of Education

Literature review 2006

Literature Review 2006

Conducted in 2006 of evidenced based practices, evidenced informed practices and expert consensus models utilizing PubMed, Cochrane, and Google Scholar

National educational policy

National Educational Policy

  • Teachers and school administrators can play a major role in the immediate recovery process by providing specific structured and semi-structured activities (NIMH, 2006)

  • A coordinated response in the school community facilitates the healing process when responding to traumatic events, (United States Department of Education, 2006)

  • Critical Need for emergency management planning to include recovery as a part of its process in the school based plan prior to an incident (USDOE, 2006)

Like it or not

Like it or not

  • The reach of schools extends far beyond the borders of the classroom and contemporary schools play a critical role in the life of their communities

  • Parents and others responsible for children often look to schools to keep children safe and to provide direction about how best to support them, especially in times of crisis

Community assessment focus groups 2007

Community Assessment Focus Groups - 2007

  • Schools that had experienced a school shooting

  • Urban Schools

  • Stakeholders

Tennessee response tennessee schools prepare

Tennessee ResponseTennessee Schools PREPARE

  • P roviding Support

  • R eaching

  • E ducators

  • P arents/Students

  • A nd

  • R estoring community with

  • E ffective interventions



Tennessee Schools PREPARE is a program designed to develop and then disseminate information to school districts that will assist all schools in advancing and maturing the response and recovery portion of their emergency management plan. TSP is an ongoing dialogue with all stakeholders, an ecological process enablingTennessee schools to respond to crises with effective, best practice interventions.

Cobb, Love, Margolis, 2009

Program goals

Program Goals

  • Tennessee schools will be prepared to offer students, staff, educators and parents immediate and effective assistance in the aftermath of a school crisis, with the goal of mitigating long term emotional suffering of survivors

  • Crisis response plans will be realistic, useful, and accessible at the time of the emergency

  • Tennessee school personnel will be empowered to train and develop crisis response team. (In house expertise)

Workshop format

Workshop Format

  • Lecture

  • Videos

  • Manuals

  • Group Discussion

Lecture manual


  • Leadership before a crisis

  • What is in a postvention plan

  • Restoring Community- First Day Back to School

  • Counseling Skills

  • Typical Trauma Reaction

  • Building Resilience

Leadership before a crisis

Leadership BEFORE a Crisis

  • District Postvention team

  • School Postvention team

    • Principal

    • Vice Principal

    • Safety Officer

    • Counselors, social workers, psychologists

    • School nurse

    • School secretary

    • Other faculty or staff(teachers, janitor cafeteria worker)

Tennessee schools prepare


These are all “professionals” volunteering to help your students. Who do you trust?

Updated and realistic plan

Updated and Realistic Plan

  • A “live” contact list must be kept bedside and in their car at all times

  • Complete after hours telephone chain including numbers of district personneland community support agencies

Faculty staff issues must be addressed

Faculty/Staff Issues Must Be Addressed

Teachers Should Not Be Expected To Handle Distraught Children Without Adequate Help For Themselves !!

What is in a postvention crisis plan

What is in a Postvention Crisis Plan?

  • Complete after hours telephone chain including numbers of district personnel and community support agencies. (as mentioned above)

  • Identification of Crisis team members.

  • Identification of regional or district crisis team.

    • Major crises may traumatize the “in house” Postvention team – district personnel should be available to help with such emergencies.

  • Identification of a Media Liaison Person

Tennessee schools prepare



  • Identification of a Family Liaison Person

    • To offer support to the effected family or families

    • To liaison regarding funeral and memorial activities

    • To help the family gather student’s personal belongings in the event of a death

    • To offer referrals as requested

  • Suggestions for informing students of unexpected loss of life (fellow students, faculty, or staff)

  • Suggestions for how to handle classroom discussions regarding the tragedy.

  • Identification of a crisis center location with a telephone, manned all day by a member of the crisis team

Tennessee schools prepare

  • Identification of rooms to be set aside for individual and group counseling

  • A plan for calling in substitute teachers, and/or a plan to relieve teachers who will need additional time to grieve/debrief.

  • In the event of a student death, a plan to have counselors follow the students schedule to provide extra support in those classrooms.

Tennessee schools prepare

  • In the event of a student death, suggestions for how staff can best deal with the “empty desk, empty locker” phenomenon.

    • Helpful suggestion – principal to bring (or request crisis team member bring) individual flower stems to school, students can have an in class “ritual” of putting flowers on deceased student’s desk, later they can be brought to family. (Also students can make paper flowers for a wreath for the locker, create a memory book for the family, cards for the family etc.)

Tennessee schools prepare

  • Formulation of school policy on Funerals and In School memorials

    • Each school needs to set a policy on funeral attendance

    • Students and faculty may want to memorialize the death in some way on school premises. This may include rituals such as a moment of silence, planting a tree, dedicating a game or event in the person’s memory etc.

    • The policy on in school memorials can be developed with student leaders – ideas to be considered include flying flag at half mass, year book memorials, special events dedicated to deceased student etc.

    • Have consistency across situations where there is loss of life so as to not hurt or offend families

  • Some Postvention plans will include sample letters that can be sent out to parents, other principals will prefer to run all communication through the media liaison and the district media consultant.

Tennessee schools prepare

  • Postvention plans should articulate the need for before and after school all staff meetings. (if the nature of the crisis effects the whole school)

  • Principals should require the staff to participate in these meetings because typically the most traumatized individuals will not seek out help

  • Teachers and staff closest to the tragedy should be grouped separately and offered critical incident debriefing. For example, if one grade level is particularly effected, that grade level team should be given the opportunity to meet separately before school with a counselor or outside professional working specifically with them.

Ongoing program design

Ongoing Program Design

  • Four hour training

  • District Consultation

    • All day training/consultation

    • Abbreviated training to target audience

  • Telephone Consultation

    • Facilitate development of postvention plan

    • Develop scope of postvention response after a traumatic incident

  • Emergency Assistance

    • In person

    • By telephone

Program summary

Program Summary

  • Approximately 4 years into project

  • Trained approximately 3000 educators

  • A mental health representative attended each original regional trainings

  • Identified train the trainers across the state

  • Aligned to requirements of Schools Against Violence- ACT (SAVE-ACT)

Recent program innovations

Recent Program Innovations

  • Development of a Website

    • www.tnschoolsprepare.com

  • Target training to districts that commit to having their leadership attend the training

  • Improve ability to get information to administration in rural locations by using mailed flyers in addition to email

Lessons learned

Lessons Learned

  • Importance of Partnership between mental health and state department

  • Importance of Focus groups for feedback and “buy-in”

  • Development of a manual is time intensive

  • Limitations of delivering content within time constraints

Tennessee schools prepare

Contact information


[email protected]

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