After living through another mass school shooting in America — one that took the lives of 19 children and two adults – let us find it somewhere within ourselves to sustain hope while maintaining vigilance over the safety and security of the children, staff members and visitors in our schools.

Although some of us may feel numb to the continued violence and heartbroken by the horrific loss of more innocent children and teachers at the hands of a gunman May 24 at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, we must persevere.

No one signed up for this. Not board members or educators — and certainly not students and their families.

The palpable anxiety, fear and anger that so many are experiencing is normal. It is called grief. Let us join together to have meaningful discussions and come away with knowledge, so we can take action to review and strengthen existing district policies and procedures and to support those in our communities to prevent a tragedy here at home.

I urge school officials to attend the New Jersey School Boards Association’s free virtual forum, School Safety: Where Do We Go from Here?  from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Monday, June 13.

Ian Hockley, executive director of Dylan’s Wings of Change, will kick off the forum and discuss social isolation and how schools can create a positive environment of empathy and promote social-emotional skills. Dylan’s Wings of Change was named after Hockley’s 6-year-old son who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly a decade ago.

A panel, including mental health experts, will discuss how we can process our trauma into proactive prevention strategies, what warning signs we should look for in assessing possible threats and ways of delivering support to our students and staff.

State education and law enforcement experts also will be on hand to outline security measures that can help our schools prevent and respond to threats.

We continue to rely on each other and field specialists who have courageously experienced, survived and worked in tragic scenarios.

One school shooting is too many. We must continue to work together to do everything possible to protect our schools and save lives. I really hope you will register to attend this program.

These are my Reflections. I look forward to hearing yours. Contact me.

 

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