The mood at school today was somber. Personally, I didn't know the man. I knew who he was to say hi, but we had never had a conversation.
I did what I could to make a space for my students to experience and express their emotions as they saw fit.
"You are allowed to be sad. You are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to not be either of those. He was a member of this community and a part of your lives to varying degrees for many years. I'm going to have some assignments available today not because I'm glossing over this tragedy, but because some people will require normalcy. If you don't feel up to doing it, I completely understand."
A student came in this morning to express guilt that she felt because she hadn't wished him a good morning in the hall and now she never could.
Another was going to stay home, but wanted to come in because she knew I would worry about her. She was right.
Another was in the room when he collapsed and stayed with him while other students went to get help. Her guilt is about not having been able to do more.
"I thought I had saved him."
For many of these students, this was the first person who died that they knew personally. It was real to them in ways that movies and the news can be.