Twenty-three years ago, Frank DeAngelis helped lead Columbine High School through its most difficult time. It was a phone call from a principal he'd never met who helped him through it.
"I was in shock, struggling and he told me was, 'Frank you don't know what you need right now but here's my number' and from that point on it really had an impact on me," he said.
That principal was in Kentucky and had just lived through his own school shooting.
"I can remember thinking I hope I never have to make that phone call," DeAngelis said.
Sadly, he has made similar calls, time and time again, leading to his role as one of the founding members of what's known as the Principal Recovery Network.
School leaders who have experienced a traumatic event can turn to the group for support and now, a guide to recovery, developed by those who have lived through similar experiences.
"We are educators, we are taught and raised to provide for our students and we got to make sure we are providing the right type of service the right support after a tragedy like this," said Michael Bennett, former assistant principal at Columbia High School in East Greenbush, New York.
He and several other school leaders joined DeAngelis at the Columbine Memorial on Monday, to discuss the guide, and share what they've learned over time.
For Michelle Kefford, Principal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Florida focusing on students she says has been critical.
"Ensuring that we don't miss any kids. My school is big, we are close to 3,600. You have your students who are involved in things you have your students who are struggling what about the kid who missed in the middle."
For DeAngelis, there were things he could never imagine would be a trigger for his school staff and students.
"We couldn't serve Chinese food because that was a meal the kids were eating when the shootings occurred," he said.
The hope he says is the guide can be a tool at a time when there is no clear path forward.
"You are just overwhelmed, and just things to think about that I never thought about," DeAngelis said.
You can find the entire guide to recovery by following the link. https://www.nassp.org/community/principal-recovery-network/
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