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Students grieve after loss of beloved principal

Posted at 5:33 PM, Jan 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-27 23:56:38-05

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, Ind. – Grief counselors were on hand at several schools Wednesday to help kids sort through what happened this week at Amy Beverland Elementary School. The YMCA also opened its doors with a chaplain available.

Some kids, though, are handling this tragedy in a different way.

PREVIOUS | Principal pushed kids out of way before she was hit by bus

Principal Susan Jordan was killed Tuesday afternoon when a school bus jumped the curb in the school's parking lot. She pushed students out of the way just in time to save them, but not herself. Two kids (both age 10) got minor injuries and should be fine.

Police say they suspect it was a “tragic operator error” that led to the crash.

RELATED | Police: Nothing mechanically wrong with bus before crash

Now, a school (and community) is heartbroken after losing its 22-year principal.

We talked to a boy and his father who stopped by the Benjamin Harrison YMCA in Lawrence Township on Wednesday.

The Y was free Wednesday for all families of Amy Beverland Elementary School, and had a chaplain available for emotional support.

MORE | Principal’s brother: ‘I just still can’t believe it happened’

This father and son, however, were not there to talk to the chaplain. They were there to find a sense of normalcy in what has been a difficult 24 hours.

“She was very nice – always kind to students,” sixth-grade student Alexander Swink said. “She always helped me.”

Alexander had plenty to say about Principal Jordan.

“She always wore nice clothes to school and she always had a big smile on her face," Alexander said.

MORE | Remembering Principal Susan Jordan: Funeral arrangements set

Alexander’s dad, Charles, tells us Alexander loved her. That makes what he witnessed Tuesday all the more difficult to process.

“(The bus that crashed) was here, and his bus was right next to it,” Charles said. “He was kind of – right there – when it happened.”

Ever since then, that father has made a special effort to make sure his child is processing his grief, just like so many other families in Lawrence Township.

RELATED | Amy Beverland school bus crash: Talking to children about difficult situations

"I tried to make sure he was OK physically, and then I kind of let him go at his own pace,” Charles said. "Being that he's in sixth grade, we want him to process it on his own, and that's what he did. He started asking questions about what's happening next (and) what's happening with his school."

Charles says he encouraged his son to stop by his school and talk to a counselor.

"How many times did I ask you today if you wanted to go to the counselor, five times?” Charles asked his son Alexander. “I was slowly asking, 'Are you sure you don't want to talk to someone?'”

But in the end, the Swinks found their way to cope at the YMCA: Playing, having fun and giving Alexander a chance to open up more on his own.

“I wanted him to have a sense of the other kids, and maybe he (could) run into some friends of his and they can start talking," Charles said.

It shows everyone in Lawrence Township is grieving in their own ways, trying to come to terms with what happened at their own pace, and getting ready to say goodbye to a beloved woman.

Classes will resume Thursday at all Lawrence Township schools with the exception Amy Beverland Elementary and the Early Learning Center at Amy Beverland.

Counseling and support for Amy Beverland students and staff will be available at the school on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

School will resume at Amy Beverland and the Early Learning Center on Monday, February 1.


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