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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Harris unites in support of Mook

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ashlyn Brannon, who raised $180 in donations for Mook's family through ribbon sales, is applauded by Harris Middle principal Bill Pietkiewicz as she's introduced at Sunday night's "strength vigil" by organizer Brittney Brooks.
(T-G Photo by David Melson) [Order this photo]
From calming students' fears to refuting rumors, Harris Middle School personnel are trying to keep the school on an even keel in the wake of reading teacher Shelley Mook's disappearance last week.

Principal Bill Pietkiewicz said Wednesday he's determined to offer full support to the student body and staff -- and is gratified at the school's, and community's, response to the situation.

"It's overwhelming to be a part of it," Pietkiewicz said of students' support. He noted students' and parents' acts of kindness and concern over the past week.

This poster in a hallway of Harris Middle School expresses the feelings of students toward missing teacher Shelley Mook.
(T-G Photo by David Melson)
A colleague at Harris says Mook herself is, in a sense, behind those actions.

"The way she is helped the kids be like that," teacher Stacy Kennemer said, describing Mook's caring nature.

"One of our students, a member of the student council, knew Shelley's favorite colors are pink and green," sixth grade teacher Sheila Phillips said. "She spent all day Sunday making ribbons. She asked if she could make ribbons to sell in school and Mr. Pietkiewicz approved."

The student, Ashlyn Brannon, was introduced to the crowd at Sunday night's "strength vigil" on the Shelbyville square, where she also sold ribbons,

"She raised over $180 which was given to Shelley's family," Phillips said.

School officials were first told Mook was missing Wednesday, Pietkiewicz said.

"On Thursday we called eighth graders together, because they were more directly affected, and the student council since Shelley is the student council sponsor.," Pietkiewicz said. "We had counselors available from our building and from other schools."

Counselors remain available if needed, the principal said.

"On Tuesday morning I had an assembly of all students to tell them what we knew," Pietkiewicz said. "I told them I had met with the family Monday night and they were very positive and were pleased with the work of the police and TBI."

Students express their love for Mook.
(T-G Photo by David Melson)
Pietkiewicz said part of the aim of the assembly was to refute rumors that had been spreading. Parents told the T-G as well that rumors had been spread through Facebook about a body being found. One parent said the originator of the rumor claimed he had spread it to be "funny."

Those rumors aren't funny to those directly affected, including Kennemer, who says she's a personal friend as well as co-worker of Mook's.

"We started at the same time here," Kennemer said. "She started out being a sponsor for Student Council. She is very organized -- always has something on her plate, is very involved in student activities.

"She's a great mother - we're friends outside of school and she was always talking about Lilly," Kennemer said.

Lilly, the 6-year daughter of Shelley and ex-husband Tyler Mook, is being kept by her paternal grandparents, Shelley's mother, Debra Sikora, told CNN's Nancy Grace on Wednesday.

"She adores her mother a lot - she's a great little girl that looks up to her mama," Kennemer said.

No new information has been released from law enforcement concerning Shelley, who was last seen at Tyler Mook's residence north of Shelbyville on Monday, Feb. 28. Her burned car was found near Murfreesboro that night.