EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — One El Segundo high school asked for help when faced with a terrible loss.
School psychologist Lynn Rodriguez has known Steven Anderson ever since she was a teenager. He was her history teacher for two years.
“Mr. Anderson, I always call him Mr. Anderson despite our relationship,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez became Anderson’s colleague. They both started working at the public charter Da Vinci schools the same year.
Earlier this year Anderson passed away suddenly.
“It was like a scene that I had probably seen in a movie or a show that’s how it felt,” said Rodriguez.
He died on a Thursday. The school’s principal told staff Friday and the news trickled out to the students over the weekend.
“Throughout that weekend I remember thinking, 'I am so grateful that I don’t have to operate in my role for the next couple days,' because I could not guarantee that I also was not going to fall apart,” said Rodriguez.
As the school psychologist Rodriguez knew she needed help.
A team of eight licensed therapists trained at the nonprofit Maple Counseling Center stepped in to assist. For a week they offered to listen to anyone who asked for free.
“We want to give them a space where they feel safe, where they can talk about whatever is coming up for them,” said Susanna De Mari, the center’s clinical and program director.
This team was devised to respond to any school or organization after a crisis.
Rodriguez spends a lot of time making sure students know it’s OK to ask for help. This time she took her own advice.
“In that moment in time as I was processing my own grief, I could not serve in that capacity for students,” said Rodriguez.
It’s free to access the Maple Counseling Center’s response network. You can call (310) 271-9999.