Saturday, December 16, 2017
Education

McMullen Booth Elementary helping students cope with loss of classmate

CLEARWATER — A team of counselors at McMullen Booth Elementary School was helping students cope Monday with the loss of their classmate, Zander Brown, who authorities said was killed by his mother over the weekend.

Before class, teachers and staff met to discuss how best to handle the students' reactions throughout the day.

Four counselors will be available to speak to students for as long as their services are needed, said Pinellas schools spokeswoman Melanie Marquez.

Students who have questions or are confused about Zander's death will be able to sit one-on-one with a counselor in a separate area to "answer questions as best they can. They'll try to listen to the child, and sort through their feelings," Marquez said.

Counselors will also let students draw pictures to better deal with their emotions.

Monday morning, counselors visited Zander's third-grade class to check on his classmates.

By the time students arrived at the school on Union Street on Monday morning, parents already knew of the tragedy. On Sunday, principal Sherry Aemisegger sent a phone message informing parents of Zander's death.

"It is with great sadness that I let you know of the death of Zander Brown," Aemisegger said in the message. "If you feel that it is appropriate, please share this information with your student in your own way."

Sometime on Friday night, Dawn Brown killed her two children, 5-year-old Zayden and 9-year-old Zander, before hanging herself, authorities said. Her husband, Murphy, discovered their bodies early Saturday.

"It's difficult news to handle," Marquez said.

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