Area educators support Chippewa Falls teachers in wake of tragedy

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- As the Chippewa Falls School District grieves the sudden and tragic loss of three elementary students, area educators are stepping in to provide relief.

Last Saturday three Girl Scouts and a mother were hit and killed by a pickup truck in Lake Hallie which devastated the Chippewa Falls community.

Altoona school counselor Brooke Kaldor said she and other educators volunteered to teach for Chippewa Falls staff because they feel as if they’re all in this together and want to support and help each other out.

Kaldor said, “They've put in a really long week and emotionally they're tired and they're still trying to do their job and we know that can be hard sometimes so it's been nice to step in and give them a break.”

For the past two days teachers and counselors from seven school districts have been volunteering so Chippewa Falls staff could attend the funerals of ten-year-old Autumn Helgeson,10-year-old Haylee Hickle and her mother, 32-year-old Sara-Jo Schneider.

Human resources executive director Michelle Golden said, “There's a ripple felt at almost every single building in our district so it's been wonderful just to have the extra people here to help when our staff are grieving. We want to make sure our kids are well cared for so when they're having a bad moment to be able to step out and have someone else step in has been wonderful.”

On Friday around 55 volunteers stepped in so nearly all staff members at Halmstad could attend the funeral of nine-year-old Jayna Kelley since her mother is a teacher at the school.

Kaldor said, “We want them to not even think twice and to be able to go and know that the kids are left in good hands here.”

When facing a tragedy like this Kaldor says it's good to remember the Mr. Rogers' quote to, “look for the helpers - you'll always find the people that are helping.”

She added, “I hope that when kids and staff lay down at night and they have all the worries in their head I think they can hopefully look back on the day and remember the helpers too.”

The Chippewa Falls School District says through its Cardinal Care all students and family have counseling available to them.

Families get up to four free sessions and can use them as a group or individually.

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