TAMPA - As students and teachers at Trinity School for Children in Tampa celebrated spirit week by making hand prints and wearing their favorite pajamas, a true American tragedy was unfolding in Connecticut.
3rd grade teacher Hayley Martinez read about the school shootings online and she says an eerie 9-11-like feeling settled over her. "It just made us question, this is our job, so it made us feel, it just hit close to home, definitely."
"Mrs. Hurtado is doing a story about an incident that happened at an elementary school in Connecticut where children were killed." Principal Madeline O'Dea explained in simple terms to Ms. Hayley's class what had just happened to kids, possibly their age. "We just have to say a prayer for them, that's all."
O'Dea says 8 and 9 year olds in 3rd grade will start asking questions. Sure enough, a hand went up - the question? How were the kids killed? The principal answered, "They were shot."
Next question: did another kid do it? Dr. O'Dea's reply, "I think it was."
Dr. O'Dea wants parents to know your kids will hear about this tragedy one way or another, and perhaps you or a person they know and trust like a teacher should be the one to answer their inevitable questions. "I think it would be prudent to be as honest as possible. Say as little as possible but make them at the end of the day believe they are safe and that mom and dad are there for them."
Mom Josie Purcell plans on having that very conversation tonight. "I think we will because they need to know these things happen. My husband and I are advocates of telling them what's out there, telling them the truth not and necessarily sugar coating it."
You may disagree - are you talking with your kids tonight about this tragedy? I'd like to hear your comments - you can share them over at my Facebook page. Look for Linda Hurtado WFTS under pages.