Stephanie Nichols gathers all of her second graders at a breakfast table each morning to begin their day.
Nichols prefers to listen rather than speak as the children unpack their backpacks and settle in the classroom. Breakfast table conversation can be about anything – from video games to the New England Patriots.
In recent weeks, the conversation was dominated by one topic: the Lewiston mass shooting that claimed 18 lives and left 13 others wounded. The incident led to a multi-day police search which shut down schools and placed the community in lockdown.
Nichols is a teacher at Narragansett elementary school in Gorham, Maine. This is about 40 minutes away from Lewiston. “Even that far away, you know, we all have connections,” she says. “It’s Maine. It really is like the biggest small town.”
Nichols knew her students needed to talk about it: “I think people sometimes really underestimate kids of this age level,” she says. “My kids had all these things they heard on the news.”
Teachers are searching for ways to help students understand the world as tragedies have dominated the news for the last few weeks. Even the youngest of children are interested in current events and headlines. Teachers are saying that they should give children tools to…