Collective Grief, Collective Healing - Healing our Community in the Aftermath of Tyre Nichols’ Brutal Death

The Memphis-Shelby County Schools family continues to uplift the family of Tyre Nichols and all who knew and loved the 29-year-old skateboarder, father, and nature photographer. Over the weekend, many of our students and staff members grappled with the circumstances of his brutal death. 

“Like thousands of our students everyday after school, Nichols appeared to be a young man just trying to get home safely,” said MSCS Board Chair Althea Greene. 

“As school board chair, it is my charge to prepare students for success and affirm their intrinsic worth. But the harsh realities of what we all witnessed in the graphic video makes that charge more difficult yet more imperative,” she added. 

Images of Mr. Nichols’ tragic last moments have elicited a collective grief, and over the last few days, the District has taken several actions to prioritize the well-being of our students and staff.

Balmoral-Ridgeway Elem. Professional School Counselor, Titantia White w/students


  • We postponed extracurricular activities in the interest of public safety and to allow our MSCS students and staff more time with their families. 
  • To aid teachers and parents, we extended the hours of our Emotional Support Hotline. MSCS families can now reach a licensed social worker Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at (901) 416-8484.
  • We provided resources on virtual counseling so that any employee feeling elevated stress or anxiety may have one-on-one sessions with a clinical professional.




Additionally, on Monday, Jan. 30, many of our students engaged in a lesson titled “Healing from Community Trauma.” The module is one of the units in our weekly Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum. Students participate in SEL lessons each week districtwide, covering topics such as kindness, anger-management, peer pressure, and compassion. 

Balmoral-Ridgeway Elementary students engaged in SEL curriculum

The “Healing from Community Trauma” lesson reviews healthy habits students can use when they experience difficult emotions or traumatic events. We have attached footage and images from that module for your use. School leaders were instructed not to show the footage of Mr. Nichols’ police encounter at school, but they were encouraged to create space for children and teens to express their feelings, ask questions, and feel affirmed. 

“In moments like this, it's important to create a safe space for students to feel seen, heard, and valued,” said Superintendent Toni Williams. “We’re striving to create a compassionate community in our schools. Just as grief is often a collective experience, healing can be as well.”

Students learn movement exercises to reduce anxiety


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