Madison teachers prep for students' return

Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-01 20:10:12-05

MADISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Faculty and staff at Madison Local Schools convened Tuesday to plan how to reopen the district’s schools and make everyone feel safe again, after a student opened fire in the cafeteria late Monday morning.

Teachers remained calm and remembered their training Monday when, deputies said, 14-year-old eighth grader Austin Hancock fired a .380 caliber gun, shooting two fellow students and injuring two more.

But underneath their professional and collected demeanors, staff members said their emotions ran the gamut.

Staff arrived at the high school building around 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, recalling the harrowing experience from less than a day before.

“It was pretty chaotic when the call came over the intercom,” said Bob Evick, a teacher and baseball coach at the high school. “Just felt a little different this time. We felt that this time maybe it was a real drill and it didn’t take long to realize that it was.”

Evick said his students immediately executed the active shooter plan they had practiced many times.

“Absolutely, there was a little bit of fear, apprehension, we all wanted to know what was going on,” he said. “But (the students) did great as far as keeping themselves under control and supporting each other.”

For kindergarten teacher Alyssa Elliot, things were a little different.

“It was worrisome,” she said. “It was scary, but we all did a very good job and we hid in our classrooms and kept everything locked up. We did what we had to do.”

Telling high school students what’s going on is one thing, but what do you say to children that young?

“Just tell them that there’s a bad person in our school, and we’re taking care of it, and you don’t have to worry about it,” she said. “You’re locked up in your classroom and you’re safe.”

In the hours following Monday’s incident, A.J. Huff, the district’s coordinator of school and community relations, applauded the staff and students’ response as “calm, collected, quiet.”

Madison Local Schools Superintendent Curtis Philpot echoed Huff’s thoughts Tuesday, saying, “Our response was definitely on the mark and things went as well as they could under the circumstances. I definitely want to praise them — our entire community for their support, as well as our neighboring school districts… It certainly meant a lot to us.”

Philpott said a crisis response team was also on site Tuesday to speak with any staff needing counseling.

“Our discussion (Tuesday) is about moving forward from this,” Philpot said. “That’s our focus, is how do we move forward and those steps to move forward.”

The crisis response team will also be available when students return to school on Wednesday. Philpot said additional support will be available in the cafeteria area.

Staff members planned an open house for students and their families Tuesday evening to help ease students back into some sense of comfort before classes resume Wednesday morning. Philpot said teachers will greet students at the doors as they arrive Wednesday morning.