Houston school principal hires full-time therapist to help students process summer of Black Lives Matter protests

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After George Floyd's death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes while Floyd couldn't breathe, millions of people, not just in the U.S. but around the world, protested with marches, rallies and even social media demonstrations.

As the U.S. faced a reckoning for issues related to police brutality, especially as news continued to break of other Black Americans dying at the hands of law enforcement, like Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, many people recognized how they individually had been affected by the country's long history of systemic racism.

Here in the Houston-area, to help students and staff members process this summer's events in a safe and mentally healthy way, MeyerPark Elementary Charter School principal and superintendent, Julia Wright, hired a full-time therapist.

"If adults are having this problem (processing everything that happened this summer), I know our students will too," Wright said.

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The goal of the program was to allow students to talk through any emotions they may have surrounding the social unrest seen in many cities across the nation.

"When I'm having these conversations with these children, they're afraid, they're angry, they're confused," said program therapist Dr. Jasmine Boone.

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"It's hard to sum it up into words," MeyerPark sixth grader Jevon Durio said. "All these emotions go through my head, like 'Why?' 'Why?'"

Many parents of the students who attended the program said they were happy with it because their kids would bring the questions they discussed back home.

"When you have to break down what's going on to the world to a 12-year-old and a 7-year-old, it's a little bit different," said Jevon's mother, Raynell.

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Boone noticed that students benefitted not just emotionally but also academically.

"We're seeing kids who normally wouldn't turn in work because they're having issues at home, they're more open about it now," she said.

"She could speak to us like we were adults," Jevon said. "It gave me a lot of actual feelings, like 'Oh, she gets this.'"
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