Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Art Education


Art Education

First Advisor

Sara Wilson McKay


Abstract TEACHING MOURNING By Julie Ann Crowder, MAE A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Art Education at Virginia Commonwealth University. Virginia Commonwealth University, 2011 Major Director: Sara Wilson McKay, Ph.D. Interim Department Chair and Associate Professor, Art Education As a researcher I sought to understand the following research questions: 1) What were the official policies and protocols that went into effect at William Fox Elementary School after the murder of the Harvey family in January of 2006? 2) What were the experiences of the staff and parents at William Fox Elementary School after the murder of the Harvey family? 3) What critiques and or suggestions do the employees and parents have of the personal or official policies or protocols, which were carried out after the murder of the Harvey family? The purpose of this research was layered. This research was necessary in order to create an accurate picture of the difficult emotional reactions of teachers attempting to teach students how to mourn while mourning themselves. Additionally, this study identified how teachers were able to continue about the business of every day life and education when they were dealing with difficult emotional issues. Participants at William Fox Elementary experienced the tragic death of the Harvey family on New Year’s Day 2006. This research illuminated possible new ways of looking at mourning, the public/media, and ways of handling these difficulties. This research could lead to the creation of new policies or protocols that would better serve the mourning populations in schools, which lose members to violence. The members of this study were William Fox Elementary employees or parents who were on present during and after the Harvey murders. Special attention was given to the IRB process. Seven participants who had a great deal of contact with Stella were selected. The PTA-funded Art Explosions teacher, Stella Harvey’s classroom teacher, the principal, the guidance counselor, a parent, the music teacher, and the librarian were all participants. Significant findings include: the importance of the speed and selection of information given to adults at the time of a tragedy, and the child information networks that form when children are not completely informed. Additionally a variety of information and thoughts are given on the subject of mourning, both public and private. Implemented and suggested healing techniques were investigated. Lastly, several uncomfortable issues that arose, such as race and rage were explored.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2011

Included in

Art Education Commons