Sparks Middle School continues to heal

Sep 16, 2014

It's been almost a year since 12-year-old Jose Reyes opened fire at Sparks Middle School last October, killing a teacher and himself, and injuring two other students. Reno Public Radio's Esther Ciammachilli reports that as the community continues to heal, a federal grant is providing the school with ongoing support.

A $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education will pay for trauma therapists to continue working with students and their families. They're keeping in touch with students who are no longer in the building as well.

"Our students that moved on to high school, we've been watching them closely," says Sparks Middle School Principal Stacey Ting. "We have a transition counselor that's been working with them, as well as myself and my counselors."

The 18-month grant will also allow the school to hire a campus police officer and a long-term substitute teacher so that other teachers can have the time to access mental healthcare services.

After the tragedy, school officials surveyed parents, teachers, and students to find out what would be most helpful for their recovery. Both on-site security and therapy services were identified as top priorities.

Additionally, the school is putting supports in place to foster relationship-building between teachers and students.

"We're just tracking very closely--talking about kids as much as we can," Ting explains, "so that we're a very kid-focused place."

One change Sparks Middle has adopted is returning to a "teaming" model in which students are grouped into teams, so they have more frequent and consistent interactions with the same small group of teachers.