Lansing Schools Prepare After Assistant Principal's Death

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

It's been two weeks since Gardner assistant principal Anthony Dixon shot and killed two people and then himself. But for the students who haven't yet heard, or are still grieving, Monday's return to school may prove emotionally difficult.

"I think we're going to find out just how palpable the grief is on Monday," says Jim Davis, director of student services for Lansing schools.

But school administrators say they're prepared. They'll have grief counselors, psychologists and social workers available this week at Gardner and Otto Middle School, where Dixon had also worked.

"We want to get a feel for how [the students] are feeling, and we don't want them to think everything has to be dealt with on Monday," Davis says.

On Sunday night, Gardner parent Ella Coward was preparing her daughter for her first day back without Dixon.

"Hopefully they'll focus on their education and not on the tragedy," she says.

Coward also hopes teachers will use their daily classroom reading time to talk through the situation with their students.

"During that time, they can talk with the kids and whatever they have on their mind, they can get it off-- and the staff, too," she adds.

Davis says for students and faculty, dealing with the murders is especially hard because no one saw it coming.

"We didn't have any indication at all that this was possible," he says.

Indications or not, the reality is now that Gardner is without one assistant principal, and students are without a former role model. The halls of Gardner will undeniably be different Monday morning, Davis says.

"When you go to the environment that he used to be in, and the person's no longer there, it makes it more difficult."


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