A Letter to Our Community
A Letter to Our Community
We join all in our nation in grieving the senseless and heart wrenching loss of life of innocent children and heroic educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Amidst a flurry of unanswerable questions, one observation has buoyed my spirit – the compelling evidence of the profound love and commitment of every teacher, administrator, and employee in the Sandy Hook school to protect their students. Their willingness to risk their lives is no surprise to me. Each day I walk our schools I see that same commitment and love for your children in the eyes of those charged with their care. As we move forward this week leading to what should be a joyous holiday season, we will remember the heroism and light of those lost, and all who love them.
Administrators and teachers will be meeting prior to the opening of school on Monday to ensure that all of our students receive the appropriate care and concern. Our counseling staff will be available throughout the remainder of the week for students, parents, and staff. The Harrison Police Department will also provide a reassuring presence on each of our school campuses this week.
I have received questions regarding our safety procedures, and while I cannot review them publicly, be assured that we carefully review all safety procedures, engage in simulations, and work directly with our Police Department to ensure the health, safety and well-being of our children, faculty and staff.
I have been asked by parents and the news media how horrific outcomes like this can be averted, and while schools can and will learn from this tragic event, the most powerful resource in averting these tragedies is the strength and willingness of a community to care for all of its children. Each member of the community must view it as a responsibility to be attentive and vigilant for any child who is disaffected, alienated, and whose needs are unaddressed. It is in meeting that collective responsibility – to care for all children, and to make concerns known to their friends and family, to child protective services, to school officials, and to the police that we best ensure the health and safety of all. We must never overlook or leave to someone else the responsibility of reporting the distress signals often evident in children or adults who would commit these indefensible acts. In caring for those, we make our best effort to care for our own children. We, in Harrison, can feel pride that we have dedicated ourselves to building a learning community in which each child is valued and nurtured.
To help your children and family through this most difficult time, mental health experts recommend limiting exposure to the information being proliferated in the media. Help your children to understand that they are safe, and that there are many adults who love them and care deeply about their safety and well-being. Spend time with your children, and answer their questions in a manner that is appropriate to their age, their mental state, and their ability to understand. The National Association of School Psychologists offers these suggestions to guide you in this difficult period: http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/terror_general.aspx.
In times like these words are often inadequate to provide the comfort we seek, but there is much comfort in the company and support of others. Our faculty and staff will be ready to welcome your children back to school and to care for their social, emotional, and academic needs.
My very best thoughts are with all of you. Let us remind ourselves and our children that most people are profoundly good, and let us find solace in each other and in the goodness that is humankind...
Louis N, Wool Superintendent of Schools