Healing to learn and learning to heal: Education recovery following a natural disaster
Physical destruction of a school and loss of material resources in a natural disaster are potentially traumatic experiences for students and school personnel (Ainsworth & Parkes, 1991). As a result of such destruction, emotional bonds to objects, people, places, and routines are frequently interrupted. When disaster occurs and students cannot immediately return to the pre-disaster learning environment, their academic progress may be compromised. Disaster relief efforts may be largely focused on physiological needs and the replacement of material goods, food, and clothing. There may be minimal focus on the psychological needs of those affected. Students who demonstrate symptoms of mal-coping may be at risk of academic underachievement and not graduating from high school (Cook-Cottone, 2004). This study uses narrative inquiry to investigate the education recovery of teachers, administrators, and students in a rural Midwestern town seven years after an EF5 tornado destroyed the schools and much of the community. The stories of their educational recoveries are examined through the theoretical lens of place attachment theory. Findings indicated a strong need for students to be reconnected with peers as soon as possible and for school staff members to reestablish daily routines. Recreating the physical environments in which social interactions occurred was instrumental to healing the psychosocial trauma of loss and displacement experienced by students and staff. The storytellers in this narrative highlighted the processes that were critical to making complete education recoveries.
Thesis (Ed.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Counseling, Educational Leadership, Education and School Psychology