Potosi School District Superintendent Alex McCaul announced the death of teacher AshLee DeMarinis on Monday.
"It is with deep regret and sadness that I inform you about a recent loss to our school community," McCaul said in a released letter. "Our district has been informed that one of our beloved teachers, Ms. AshLee DeMarinis, has passed away. Ms. DeMarinis was a wonderful teacher loved by students, staff and members of our community.
"Her commitment and passion for her students and community to succeed should be an inspiration for all of us. Ms. DeMarinis touched many lives as an educator and will be missed dearly by our community."
McCaul said the district has a Crisis Intervention Team that will assist students, school personnel, and parents during this difficult time. Counselors will also be available at John Evans Middle School and Potosi High School.
"We encourage you to talk with your child regarding how they are feeling," McCaul said. "How we, as adults, deal with a tragedy like this will serve as a model for our children and students. It is extremely important for them to feel loved and supported as they discuss their feelings."
He encouraged parents to consider the following when talking to students:
Tell the truth. Talk about death versus just "going to sleep." Explain the situation.
Allow your child to talk about their feelings. Your child may not know how to respond and will be looking to you for your guidance.
Accept all expressions. Each person will have different expressions depending on how well they knew the person. Do not dismiss their feelings under any circumstances.
Encourage written expressions such as notes, poems, letters, pictures, etc. to the family.
Affirm that your child's reaction is normal and you understand how they are feeling.
Watch for changes in your child's emotions. Do not ignore changes and seek help for your child immediately should you notice significant changes.
Help your child return to a normal routine as soon as possible.
"Our deepest sympathies go to the DeMarinis family and her many beloved friends," McCaul added. "We care deeply for all those affected by this tragic loss."
The Potosi district started school on Aug. 24.
Nikki Overfelt is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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