West Liberty-Salem High School Principal Greg Johnson and Middle School Principal Andy McGill are featured in November’s Men’s Health Magazine for their outstanding efforts in recovery and response to schools across the nation that have experienced gun violence. The Article, The Club No Principal Wants to Join, written by freelance journalist Gloria Liu, takes readers on a journey alongside four of the 21 founding principals of The Principal Recovery Network, who led their schools through the aftermath of a school shooting.
Gloria Lui worked on the story for several months, recounting their experiences from the days, months, and even years following events at Columbine, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Perry Hall High School, and right here in our community. “She interviewed us via phone and Zoom and even met us at a conference in California to hear us present,” Principal Greg Johnson shared. The conference was the ‘2023 School Safety Symposium: Active Shooter Awareness,’ where West Liberty-Salmen graduate Logan Cole, Greg Johnson, Andy McGill, and Superintendent Kraig Hissong were Keynote speakers. “I thought she did a great job weaving the four personal experiences together into one story. She uniquely captured the essence of the Principal Recovery Network in a powerful and well-written narrative.”
While no one recovers the same way after a tragic or traumatic event, similar themes present themselves in patterns. Lui writes, “They [principals] led their communities forward. They faced common challenges, which unfolded in a similar sequence.” She continues, “Today, as the PRN, they offer their experiences as a guide, in hopes they might help others find a smoother passage through. On the other side of the hardship, the principals promise, there can be healing.” Lui, Gloria, “The Club No Principal Wants to Join”, Nov. 2023. “This group is spread out over the country,” Principal Andy McGill said, “and I would do anything to be there to assist them. They are my friends. I am proud to be a part of this group because I do think we are doing good.”
Now, years later, both Johnson and McGill are still sharing their experience with schools across the nation. Like other members of the PRN, retrospect has given them pause to look at what they might have done differently in the days following the shooting. In the article, Johnson and McGill share regrets and guilt, but also the sentiment that life doesn’t just go on, McGill says, “It must go on.” They continue to look at the positive outcomes, the milestones, and the healing that follows.
To read the complete article, pick up a copy of the November edition of Men’s Health Magazine, or read the complete story online at Principals Speak Out on Trauma and Healing After School Gun Violence (menshealth.com).