LPS Learning Lunch: 'Restoring Calm'

When you say “school crisis,” most people think of the impact of community violence, a serious accident, a natural disaster.

But the more common crisis situation at Lincoln Public Schools – when schools most often need extra support and attention – is the death of a student or staff member, according to Brenda Leggiadro, LPS supervisor for Counselors and Social Workers, and Ursula Vernon-Hansen, facilitator of the LPS Crisis Response Team, speaking Tuesday at the December LPS Learning Lunch.

“That is probably the most impactful situation we see in our buildings, when students need support in dealing with grief,” according to Leggiadro, speaking to the topic, "Restoring Calm: LPS Response to Crisis."

“When we send our Crisis Response Team into a school we are looking to re-establish a sense of safety and restore the learning environment,” she explained.  “We are there to provide a calm presence and find a way for the school to return to normal…

“But you must understand that, working with children in grief, responses vary dramatically according to age, developmental level, relationship with the person who died, and other traumatic events in a child’s life.”

Leggiadro described the major characteristics of a crisis as:

  •      Extremely negative, “something devastating, something that gives you a pit-in-your stomach feeling”
  •      Unpredictable, takes you by surprise, catches you off guard
  •      Uncontrollable
  •      Wide impact (not just an individual event, but something that impacts the entire school)

When a significant crisis event occurs, LPS administrators first determine the level of response needed and who should be involved, Vernon-Hansen said. Then the Crisis Response Team will develop a plan for the level of response, providing factual information to students and families, using clear language about what occurred. Team members will often schedule a staff meeting, work with the teachers in an impacted student’s classes, and provide staff with ideas for dealing with students during a crisis.

Follow-up is essential, both Leggiadro and Vernon-Hansen agreed. If a child is exhibiting significant behaviors – such as acting irritable, withdrawn, anxious, etc. – then the family will be provided with information on community resources.

LPS Learning Lunches are open to the Lincoln community. The rest of the 2017-18 season:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 23: "Success with our Scholars," featuring LPS students and Pete Ferguson, coordinator, LPS Youth Development Team.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27: "Kids vs. adults in LPS Spelling Bee," LPS Spelling Bee champions compete with LPS employees, Mindy Murphy, curriculum specialist, Secondary English Language Arts.
  • Tuesday, March 27: "Developing Young Men and Women," featuring Huntington Elementary School children and Rik Devney, Huntington principal.
  • Tuesday, April 24: "A Great Year of Achievement," highlighting LPS special education programs at Sherrill, Nuernberger and Yankee Hill Education Centers – Jane Stavem, associate superintendent of Instruction at LPS.
  • Tuesday, May 15: "Making Music, UKE can do it!"  Come try your musical talents with ukuleles, Lance Nielsen, curriculum specialist for Music at LPS.



Published: December 19, 2017, Updated: December 19, 2017