A Catholic school community on Milwaukee’s northeast side is offering support to the family of three students following the shooting death of their mother in early December.
Nyeshia Liggins, the mother of one graduate and three students currently attending Blessed Savior Catholic School’s East Campus, was fatally shot in a van at a gas station at about 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 4.
“This has definitely affected our school community,” Principal Erin O’Donnell said. Proceeds from fundraisers planned at each of Blessed Savior’s three campuses will be donated to the family, as well as donations collected at the East Campus Christmas concert Dec. 20.
With many school families stretched thin with the extra expenses of Christmas, no donation goals were set.
“We’re just trying to see what people can give,” O’Donnell said.
All-school prayers during daily announcements have included intentions for the family, as have prayers at Masses at Blessed Savior Parish. The school also has publicized a GoFundMe page initiated by a family member and organized some meals for the family.
The grade K3-8 East Campus of Blessed Savior has just 170 students, including four cousins with whom Liggins and her children resided, O’Donnell said. There is only one class of each grade, which means many students and staff know one another.
“That is the thing I do love about Blessed Savior … that it is such a close, tight-knit community,” O’Donnell said. Some school parents also worked with Liggins and her sister, the mother of the four cousins who also are students at Blessed Savior, at an assisted living facility.
Many staff members and even some former teachers attended the visitation or funeral held Dec. 15. Some also attended a Dec. 8 balloon release organized by Liggins’ family and held at the shooting site. “We just felt it was important to support the kids,” O’Donnell said.
In the event of a crisis, Catholic school leaders are asked to reach out to the archdiocese as soon as practically possible if they’d like support, said Bruce Varick, associate superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Once the schools office is made aware of the situation from the school principal or president, it can offer support such as advice on communications with families or referrals to counseling teams at other Catholic schools, Varick said. Each school is unique in what resources it may have to draw on in any given situation.
In early December, a two-day formal workshop through the National Association of School Psychologists devoted to psychological first aid and recovery after a critical event was offered to principals and counselors. Varick was grateful for the opportunity to bring this training to the archdiocese. Varick hopes to form Catholic school personnel who would be able to go help another school if a critical incident takes place.