Friday, 8 January 2016

Dealing with the death of a staff member

The passing of a staff member is something that affects all of the school, especially if it is someone who, on a daily basis interacted with staff and students from across the school. This week at Bradbury, we took time out to remember and acknowledge the death of our former librarian, who fought a long and courageous battle with cancer. Helping children to understand death is a very difficult topic for many of us, especially if the death is someone close to us and we are also dealing with our own grief.

By the time they reach high school, most children have experienced the death of a family member or friend; one in 20 face the death of a parent by age 16. As uncomfortable as it can be, our children need our support to work through what we, as adults know, is a part of a natural cycle.

As a school, we sat and decided how best to support our staff and students through this loss. We definitely knew that we wanted to acknowledge this passing in a positive and supportive way.
Firstly, we considered the family's wishes that books be donated to a library in her name. We had a list of our librarian's favourite books from her many blogs, so we decided that we would buy all of the ones that were not already in our library. We knew also that with her family,she  had enjoyed holidays in the Philippines, so a donation of books would also be made to a school library that is still feeling the effects of the devastating typhoon that destroyed so much a couple of years back. We will acknowledge this by inserting a book plate especially designed for this commemoration. A small and cozy corner of our library will be dedicated to these books for our students to enjoy.

Secondly, we wanted to acknowledge her passing as a whole school. We needed to do this sensitively and sensibly, so a Year 2-6  assembly was held. This was bright, fun, light and positive- just the way we think our librarian would have chosen it to be. I talked about all the things she loved- her family, books, blogging, travel and swing dancing. As many of the students had no idea of what swing dancing was, we watched a YouTube demonstration of 'In the Groove', which impressed everyone in regards to the talent it takes to master!

Finally our students were invited to write a letter to our librarian's son, who was also a student here, to her husband or to our librarian herself, which we will post to her family, along with pictures of our donated books in their special corner of the library.

Next week, staff will gather to share memories and toast in her honour and to her memory.

Image result for debbie Alvarez

                                                                 Rest in peace Debbie.

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