A team of counselors has been assisting both students and staff in the wake of last week’s fire that claimed the lives of two Sioux City School District employees. Susan Smid, a music teacher at Liberty Elementary, and her husband Steve, who worked in the district’s food service department, both died in the fire at their home early Thursday morning.
Both were 58. Jennifer Gomez is the head counselor for the Sioux City School District. She says the counselors were brought in immediately after school officials learned about the tragedy.
“We did have counselors on sight helping support teachers as they heard the news and as the news was being delivered to students,” Gomez said. The counselors are helping students deal with a wide range of emotions, according to Gomez, in coping with the loss of the music teacher.
“Letting them know that it’s okay to be upset, it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to be mad or confused…nobody is in the wrong for being too upset or not being upset enough,” Gomez said. She notes it’s been tough watching staff members react to the loss of their colleagues. Last Thursday’s house fire in Riverside neighborhood marked the first fire related deaths in Sioux City this year.
The city’s Fire Marshal, Mark Aesoph, says it’s a grim reminder that all residents should make sure they have working smoke detectors in their dwellings. A smoke alarm on the main floor of the Smid’s home was not operational, according to Aesoph. The fire started in the kitchen.
Aesoph says this is the third straight year Sioux City has had a fatal residential fire. Prior to 2011, the city had gone eight years without a fire related death.
By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City