This morning I added my name to a letter
endorsed by a growing list of Heads of School in the Metropolitan area who are speaking out against gun violence. With so many Heads of School joining together around a single issue to have our voices heard, this historic letter implores our national leaders to exercise their power to enact laws and reforms that will address the rampant gun violence in our country.
Like many of you, I have found myself struggling to make sense of this unnerving and complex issue. It is easy to fall prey to feelings of frustration and despair, but I believe that we are approaching some kind of watershed moment in our country. It is heartening and encouraging to see our young people exercising their voices with such passion, poise and power, and for the first time in a long time I am feeling a sense of hope that important changes may in fact be on the horizon.
I was a freshly minted Head of School when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conducted their shooting spree at Columbine High School, killing 13 people and wounding 24 more. It’s hard to imagine that now, nearly 20 years later, this horrendous reality continues and we have yet to prioritize our children’s safety on a national level.
Having lived through Columbine, Sandy Hook, and now Parkland, I take seriously the role of “Chief Safety Officer” that is inextricably linked to my title as Head of School. When it comes to our work as educators, nothing is more important than the systems we create and employ to keep our students safe. To that end, we take advantage of every opportunity to ensure that the safety skills of our teachers and students are optimized and regularly refreshed. For example, professional active shooter training for all staff was added to our annual training regimen a number of years ago, and of course lockdown and other safety drills are practiced with regularity throughout the year.
Our Leadership Team and staff are in the process of reviewing our safety measures to identify opportunities for improvement, and we will keep parents apprised of resulting changes. In the meantime, we ask for everyone’s cooperation in following current safety procedures. Several parents have asked me how they can help, and I wanted to share these simple yet important requests:
- Re-familiarize yourself with the Parent Handbook, especially those sections pertaining to school safety (available on the Parent Portal)
- Make sure your child arrives to school on time each day
- Minimize the number of times you need to pick your child up early from school
- Refrain from calling the school - especially during busy times such as arrival and dismissal - unless absolutely necessary
- Reinforce with your child the importance of listening to their teacher’s direction in an emergency
As challenging as these issues are, I take great comfort in knowing that we are a close-knit community that is committed to do everything we can to keep our students safe. I trust that together we will continue to provide a safe and loving environment in which our students can learn and grow into the skilled and compassionate leaders they are destined to be.