Responses for School Safety – December 19, 2012
Posted December 19, 2012on:
Responses for School Safety:
The Newtown Tragedy is on all of our minds. The heartbreak and shock has led many to ask what we are doing, or have done, in Northampton Public Schools. Here is a glimpse into our work this week.
On Monday morning in all schools, our teachers and principals met to prepare for the student arrival. There were some student absences, but nothing unusual from a regular school day. It was considered that the weather, seasonal illnesses, and/or the Newtown incident kept those absent at home. Principals and teachers reported the day was surprisingly calm, yet emotion crept in throughout the day as teachers interacted with students and imagination sometimes got the best of them; however, our professionals performed admirably. At JFK, the teachers used the forum for discussing student responses to the event, talked about increasing school safety measures, and guidance counselors were available for students who needed more one-to-one talk. In addition, students talked about how to support our community and also how to best reach out to the people of Newtown. At the high school, teachers used the advisory period on Tuesday morning for similar activities.
Tuesday afternoon, Johanna McKenna and I met with members of our police department and central services to review our plans and discuss new steps we should take to preserve the safe climate in our schools. Ideas suggested include: (1) the installation of the cameras at the high schools as soon as possible (these were donated from the police department), (2) a police and administrator led re-training of teachers in security drills, (3) the institution of an adopt-a-school (elementary) program with police officers, (4) the review of the security of the doors at the high school, (5) the review of new plans for an entrance security system for the high school, (6) and an offer for a refresher training for the students (6-12) of their role in our safety drills and their critical role in maintaining a safe climate in our schools.
Today, Dr. Sharon Saline, a Clinical Psychologist in Northampton, has offered to meet with all teachers and ESP’s who feel the need to come together and gather strength from each other, share feelings and thoughts in response to the recent school tragedy, and recharge before the school vacation. This forum is completely voluntary for faculty and offered as a gift from Dr. Saline to the Northampton Public Schools. It will be held at JFK library from 3:30 – 4:30 pm (a time when all faculty are able to attend if they choose).
Brian L. Salzer, Ed.S.