Be not afraid

Once again, I’ve had a post banging around in my head for a couple of days now. I’m thinking about school safety and the emails I’ve received from the people closest to me, asking if I’m safe, if our schools are safe, are we taking precautions. I’m thinking about the tragic events in the news, the real people left to pick up the pieces, and the horror of it all. Most of all, I wonder when and where it entered our collective consciousness that someone who’s disturbed, or hurting, or mentally ill takes innocent children out with them as a solution. Or when children learned they could kill someone who offers an answer they don’t like. For any parent, this strikes us where we’re most vulnerable.

As someone charged with the safety of 491 most precious people in parents’ lives, I think about what’s happening nationally and what is happening in G-Town. Are we secure enough with locked doors and our current system of security and safety plans? Are we talking to and more important, listening to, our students enough? Does every child feel connected with some adult in the building? Are our students comfortable enough with us as adults to tell us if something’s wrong with them or with someone they know? Does our staff know enough to really listen and then report? Am I responding appropriately? Is our Dean of Students? Are our counselors? Do parents feel that when they talk to us, we respond? Are we doing enough? We’re reevaluating, asking those questions, issuing reminders.

And yet, I don’t feel afraid in our school, ever.  We all still go about the business of education. That’s what we do. Day in and day out. What we’re doing is that important. I’m compelled to be here in G-Town, trying to make a difference, no matter what the consequences. In many ways, our schools are safer and more secure than they’ve ever been before. Children simply cannot be afraid to come here, nor can we. It’s our job to make good decisions, to keep our children safe, to safeguard against tragedy. We do the best we can, every single day and we go about our business, educating our children.


  1. G-Town,
    I caught a bit of C-Span this morning while eating my breakfast. The young man whose sister was the first to be killed in Columbine was speaking with our President about school safety. He spoke of the others who were killed around him as he was on the floor of the library hoping his life would be spared. In all honesty, I thought that this would be another forum to talk about metal detectors and cameras in all hallways.

    BUT, he spoke about the fact that this is about character. He said that the young men who terrozied Columbine were smart. I wish I had his exact quote, but he told the president that we focus on achievement, but we are forgetting about character. How true! But character of who?

    I am not sure that this is about a Character Education program. They certainly serve a good purpose, but I am thinking about the character of all of us adults. What are we doing to let all kids know that we care? What are we doing to connect with these kids every day? We are working hard to make school a meaningful place for kids while still trying to meet the requirements of NCLB. What I am wondering about is whether or not we are intentional in our efforts! Are the kids connecting with adults that touch their lives every day? Do they have someone they can reach out to on both good and bad days?

    I can not help but think of the number of times I entered the girls’ restroom in our district to find one of them crying. Today, my secretary encountered a sobbing young lady. She was worried about her class; she was not doing well. This was not about a boyfriend or a fight with friends. She wants to be good at what she does and she felt she had no one to talk to. How can this be?

    G-Town, I think you hit the nail on the head! Are we talking and listening enough?

  2. First, I’d like to express my irritation and my thanks. This past summer you sent an e-mail about your blog. I checked it out, explored links, and now find myself cruising through cyberspace and into the underground blog world, coming out hours later to a still messy house and a need for sleep. I’d start a support group but am sure it would just turn into another blog with more links and ……

    Back to safety. We are never safe from evil people who want to harm us. They will win, we will lose. They work harder at fighting life then we do at living it. Don’t get me wrong, precautions and drills are a good idea. We need to pay attention, communicate, and stay tuned in. But we also need to live and be happy and love. Terrorist, and I’m not just talking about those in far away lands, are people whose lives are full of hate. As a school we need to fill every kid with love and keep our fingers crossed that love will counter the hate they have been shown. Maybe all we can really do is defy the creation of a terrorist, one student at a time.

  3. As with everything else, there needs to be balance. We cannot ensure total safety and we should not assume it either. There are simply too many external variables beyond our control. There are also many proactive things we can do. Young staff (not just teachers)do need to be trained and procedures should be reviewed and practiced periodically. This is not to provoke insecurity but rather to address our present-day reality. As with most issues, communication and education are critical. This was demonstrated so vividly in my college-level General Psych class recently as we discussed the recent school violence episodes and what each of us can do to promote our safety. As adults, tend to assume a level of knowledge and understanding that may not exist. I was stunned as I listened to a senior girl speak with regard to her myspace account. She had no understanding that info posted on those types of sites is availabe to others with or without her consent. Is she simply a naive exception? How many other students may lack the insight and wisdom to serve themselves in a proactive protective manner?

  4. We have fire drills. We can get out of school and a distance away in about 2 minutes. But beyond that? Metal detectors are intimidating, as are cameras. And neither really make us feel safer.

    We are in a safe place, why take measures that just make us feel insecure?

    Look, I don’t mean to go off on a rant, and I wouldn’t oppose some prudent measures, but most of what has been imposed on us over the last 5 years doesn’t feel so prudent. It feels like the previously held agenda of those who are not so committed to guarding our civil liberties.

    I guess this is a plea for rational decision-making. We can think about safety without letting emotion carry us away.

  5. After Columbine, we went through a period of time were we had lock-down drills. We had CRO’s trying to breach the school, and test how prepared we were for an emergency. We’ve stopped doing this, and it has many of our facutly members wondering if we are prepared for an emergency anymore.

    I do feel safe here. Safer since we stopped the drills than I did when we had drills all the time. Am I just kidding myself that we are safe? I feel confident that I would be able to hide my students away in my backroom, and we’d be safe, but couldn’t tell you what a code yellow was in our school. I wonder if new teachers have thought about what they would need to do. Would they know what a code yellow is?

    While going without drills makes me feel like I’m safer, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a drill from time to time in order to make that feeling a reality.

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