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Social workers ‘were the glue’ that held school together after shock of student’s death

Wednesday, May 31, 2017   (0 Comments)
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It was an extremely difficult time for students, staff and administrators in Wyandotte Public Schools last week, and School Supt. Catherine Cost said their team of social workers turned out to be the glue that held everything together.

After getting word Monday night that 10-year-old Christopher Baltzer, a fourth-grade student at Garfield Elementary School in Wyandotte, had been killed, Cost activated the district’s crisis team of social workers.

By 7:30 a.m. Tuesday a group of social workers in the district who are trained to help assist in a time of crisis were at the school.

 

“That was a hard, hard day,” Cost said. “They came together as a team and they helped staff and students get through the day.”

Cost said the district had “all hands on deck” to help everyone, especially students in Baltzer’s class, as well as his sister’s second-grade class. She, too, is a student there.

According to Becky Eyster, director of human resources, in some cases students went to the social workers to talk about their feelings, and social workers also sought out students who appeared to be struggling.

They were kept busy the entire day.

“We are fortunate that each of our nine buildings has a social worker,” Eyster said. “Five of them went to the elementary school. They are just a very good group. They were great.”

This was the first time this school year the crisis team has been activated.

Eyster said she believes the last time the team was called to assist students and staff with a “tragic loss” was last year when a student in the middle school was killed in a house fire in Ecorse.

“They work so well together,” Eyster said of the social workers. “They’re a machine.”

The school is taking up a collection that will be given as a donation to the family.

A “Hat Day” also is being planned in the district as a fundraiser for Baltzer’s family.

Students at the school made more than 200 cards sharing a memory about Baltzer.

School officials said it served as an emotional outlet for students and they hope it will touch members of Baltzer’s family.

A social worker has kept in touch with his family for the school.

Baltzer and his family recently moved from Wyandotte to Woodhaven.

He and his grandmother, 49-year-old Sharry Multop, were killed inside March Creek Village.

According to police, Terry Lee Wyatt, 62, was renting the apartment and shot both of them before turning a gun on himself.

Police said there was a domestic dispute between Wyatt and Multop prior to the shooting.

School officials said a private funeral was held Friday for Baltzer.

This story was originally published in The News Herald on May 30, 2017.


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