A teacher who was on the set of Parkland offers advice to Uvalde survivors

Updated June 3, 2022 11:32 a.m. ET

Kim Krawczyk was teaching a math lesson to her freshmen on a Wednesday in 2018 when gunshots rang through the building. The attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, reportedly killed 14 students and three staff.

Although no shots were fired in her classroom that day, she and her students were traumatized, and she says school shootings like the one last week in Uvalde, TXresurface the experience for them.

“We know exactly what it’s like to have that fear, to have that panic, to hold on to hope. To lose our friends and colleagues,” she says. “You just want to believe as a survivor that no one will ever have to go through that again.”

Sadly, many families and teachers have done so in the four years since the Parkland shootings, and more likely will do so in the future.

“In the next few days, you’ll be working your schedules around the funeral. You’ll be filling out victim reports and organizing fundraisers. You’ll have a hard time getting out of bed and forgetting what day it is,” Krawczyk wrote in an essay for Business Intern. “You will walk your dog. You will hate God, you will thank God. You will find the fire to go on.”

She says her experience suggests that recovery will be a months-long process for those who were at Robb Elementary School during the Uvalde shooting.

“We were a mess. Trying to get therapy, trying to get help, and trying to get someone to understand us,” she told NPR. morning edition. “I always did my best – I stayed in touch with families where I could – but I tried to get myself get out of this shock.”

In the end, she says she and her students found talking to each other to be very helpful. She is still in contact with many of them.

There wasn’t a lot of trauma training available at the time of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, she says, but there will be a lot of things Robb Elementary staff and students will need help with. to face.

“Survivor’s guilt. I don’t know if little kids will have it. Teenagers have had it. I have it,” Krawczyk says. “Families are going to need guidance. These children are going to need a safe and normal space to reconnect.”

And this place can’t be back in school, she says – something she learned in her classroom following the Parkland attack.

“Because I was teaching right before everything happened, sometimes my voice was a trigger for the kids, and they would literally start crying,” she says.

In terms of prevention, Krawczyk favors making it more difficult to obtain the kind of guns used by Parkland and Uvalde shooters, including higher age limits – “an 18 years old is a child,” she said.

And if conservative politicians insist on focusing on mental health, she says they need to think much, much bigger.

“You want to talk about mental health? It doesn’t start the day that kid shot his grandma, it doesn’t start the day that kid went to buy those guns,” Krawczyk says. “One hundred percent this kid has been struggling since probably second grade. But we don’t have the finances or the resources to get these kids the help they need when it starts, when they’re little.”

Until everyone comes together to discuss the problems and come up with solutions, she says, there’s more than enough blame to be had.

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