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Wylie ISD counselors jump to support a school grieving two sisters who died in Allen shooting

Sisters Daniela and Sofia Mendoza
Sisters Daniela and Sofia Mendoza

On Saturday, two sisters, 11-year-old Daniela and 8-year-old Sofia Mendoza, were killed in the shooting at Allen Premium Outlets. School counselors let parents know as soon as they did Monday morning, just before school.

On Tuesday, counselors with Wylie ISD were ready to talk to the girls' classmates at Cox elementary school — about the incident and coping with the loss of their friends.

Wylie ISD counselors Amy Andrews and Amanda Martin are trained in standards established by the National Organization for Victim Assistance, or NOVA. Both talked to KERA's Bill Zeeble.

The counselors had worked with traumatized Wylie students before, after a staff member or student died. But this was the first time criminal violence killed students.

Counselor Amy Andrews explained she uses specific language so students can acknowledge what happened and asks questions about how they feel now, and when they heard the news. Then she invites questions, in a group setting.

"You just provide time for students to share any response that comes to mind," Andrews said.

Amanda Martin said despite the trauma and emotional pain, it's her job to remain calm, confident and kind. Still, she may tear up, like many students.

"It's people sharing really important things with you," Martin said. "The time is really there for them. We're there for the students and the staff."

Not just talking

Andrews explained they also had specially trained comfort dogs for Tuesday's counseling sessions.

"That helps with all ages," Andrews said. "To be completely honest, any student, any teacher, administrative staff, front office staff was welcome to spend time with these therapy dogs as well.

"That was comforting for everyone."

Donations have also come in to support the family, Martin said.

"It just shows you how many people love and care for this school and the staff and the families."

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.