Counselors fan out to help grieving Hays CISD students

Joshua Otto. (Photo from: Hays CISD)

Hays CISD says the victim of a fiery Tuesday night crash was one of its students. They identified him as Joshua Otto, 16, a junior at Hays High School. He's also the son of one of the district's first grade teachers.

Joshua is one of at least six current or former students from the district to recently die. Today counselors fanned out to talk with students and their teachers. Charlotte Winkelmann, director of guidance for the district says, "We don't have a crisis counselor that comes in. All of the counselors are trained to be crisis counselors and grief counselors. And I train them at all levels so just because you're at an elementary school you can be deployed at any time if we need you with the high school."

In Austin, the Christi Center focuses on helping young people deal with loss. Program director Erin Spaldin says, "When you first find out about a loss it's just staggering like you are in a place of denial often." Spalding says it's even harder when you haven't had time to heal from a previous loss. She explains, "So if you're just starting to understand that and have additional loses on top of that it's like you can never get to the point where you're moving forward."

And it's not just the big kids dealing with this. Since Josh's mom is a first grade teacher in the district, counselors visited her class. Winkelmann says, "It's really hard on first graders to know that their teacher may be upset. So we talk to the first graders about what to do when she comes back. What can you do right now."

To learn more about the Christi Center and their programs to help grieving young people click on the link below:

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