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‘Why I Am The Way I Am’: Teachers And The Emotional Toll Of Losing Students To Violence

Carver junior Kennis Fairley and drama teacher Ateja Lewis.
Cheryl Gerber
WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio
Carver junior Kennis Fairley and drama teacher Ateja Lewis.

Our student-produced series “This Is Why It Matters” is about the lives of people our community has lost to gun violence. One thing students at George Washington Carver High School discovered in their reporting is that students aren’t the only people at school struggling with grief - many Carver teachers are grappling with the emotional toll of having lost students to homicide. Some teachers are also survivors of their own trauma.

Carver Junior Kennis Fairley shares this story about getting to know another side of his drama teacher, Ateja Lewis. Ms. Lewis, as Kennis explains, has a reputation at Carver for being strict and quick to intervene in confrontations.

We also get to know a student Ms. Lewis lost in 2015. Tokyo Palmer was her student at Landry-Walker High School. He was a "people's person," who loved to sing in the choir - and also the cafeteria, the hallway and the classroom. Tokyo was 17 when he was shot and killed.

As a warning, this story does include descriptions of violence.

This piece was produced with support from Images and Voices of Hope and Do Good Nola.

Entergy Corporation Supports WWNO's education reporting.

Eve Abrams first fell in love with stories listening to her grandmother tell them; it’s been an addiction ever since.

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