Social Work MSW Program Provides Online Resources for Franklin Regional Community

California University’s online learning management system is taking on a new assignment in the aftermath of the April 9 stabbing incident at Franklin Regional High School.

Rather than connecting Cal U students and professors, Desire2Learn (D2L) will link students, families and community members with educational materials and other resources that may help them cope.

A 16-year-old suspect is in custody after he allegedly stabbed 21 Franklin Regional students and a school security guard in a school hallway. Several students were still hospitalized when the school reopened one week after the incident, which drew national media attention to the suburban school district about 45 miles from Cal U.

“By using D2L, we can provide crisis intervention educational materials and links to other resources that might be helpful,” says Dr. Peg Christopher, an associate professor in Cal U’s Department of Social Work. She spearheaded the D2L project through the multidisciplinary Assessment, Intervention and Training Center housed in the MSW Program at Cal U.

“We’re using D2L to create a safe place, a confidential environment where people can request resources or, if they choose, share their own stories.”

Members of the Franklin Regional community — including Franklin Regional graduates who attend Cal U — can enroll in the D2L site, Christopher explained. Once online they can access information, request additional resources or describe their own experiences.

“Sometimes just telling your story can be therapeutic,” Christopher says. “But you need to tell it in your own time, and in your own way.”

At some point, the D2L site may include a discussion board so participants can interact. But for now only a handful of licensed professionals, bound by confidentiality, will be able to read the requests posted on D2L. They will decide whether to respond to postings directly or provide more broad-based information.

The D2L project is intended to supplement the work of crisis intervention teams and counselors who are working in the school district and the community.

Christopher was one of a number of professionals who provided support for students, families and community members after church services in the Murrysville area on the day of the attack. She met with students who were “still processing what had happened” and with several adults from the community who mobilized to help the students and families.

“We had prepared 100 handouts, and I could have used more,” she said. “Those students and their families were eager for information.”

The informal, community-based response to the school district’s needs aligns with the mission of the Social Work Department, particularly the Master of Social Work program at Cal U. The program focuses on social work in rural areas and small towns.

Students, families and other members of the Franklin Regional community who would like to enroll in the D2L site may contact Dr. Peg Christopher at 724-938-5358 or 733-2928. Just leave your name and an e-mail address on the confidential voice mail.

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