Lubbock ISD therapy dogs visit Brownfield High School following death of teacher

Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 6:33 PM CDT
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BROWNFIELD, Texas (KCBD) - Brownfield High School students returned to campus on Tuesday after taking a few days off to process the death of a teacher. Lorna Wilkins, a high school teacher, tragically died after suffering a medical emergency on campus last week.

However, Brownfield ISD and other districts eased the student’s return with the help of some well-trained emotional support.

“It is difficult sometimes to get kids to open up and talk, there is this stereotype about putting your feelings out there, especially at the high school level,” Lisa Brown, a counselor at Lubbock ISD, said. “ A dog changes that whole thing.”

Brown is a counselor with Lubbock ISD’s “Muttley Crew,” a team that specializes in taking therapy dogs to surrounding schools that may be dealing with some kind of crisis.

“When the incident happened on Wednesday, it was very traumatic for students and staff,” Melissa Vera, the assistant superintendent at Brownfield ISD, said.

Brownfield ISD and Lubbock ISD knew coming back to campus would not be easy on the students; that’s where the furry friends came into play.

“Literally their faces just lit up the minute we walked into the door, the kids were like, ‘oh my god there is a dog,’” said Brown.

While some of the students just pat the dogs in silence, others opened up to the counselors about the challenges the last week has brought.

“The first two boys I encountered were very somber, very quiet, they weren’t really talking. I started asking them questions; Buddy was at their knees and they were petting him. It allowed me to get them to talk,” Brown said. “A lot of what they are having problems with, and we see this with the youth, they don’t process death very well because kids aren’t supposed to die, teachers aren’t supposed to die.”

Vera tells us the outpouring of love and support is what is getting the staff and students through this tough time.

“We appreciate Lubbock ISD, all of the people that have reached out during this time, the Brownfield community, and coming together during this time,” said Vera.

Brownfield ISD has set up a Memorial Scholarship in honor of Lorna Wilkins. Donations can be made in person or over the phone at (806) 637-2751 to Brownfield Federal Credit Union.