Today Matters » are you listening? ARE YOU LISTENING?

are you listening? ARE YOU LISTENING?

March 9, 2018
are you listening? ARE YOU LISTENING?
Sometimes the quietest voice at the table is the voice that actually has the most to say. It’s the quiet voice of reason… one that speaks to something deep within us. The voice doesn’t have to yell or scream, or pound its fists on the table… it just makes sense. That voice is the voice of our children, asking for school to be a safe place where they can learn.
It’s been 20 years since the Columbine High School shootings. I remember 1999 vividly as a high school classroom teacher, charged with the teaching and learning of hundreds of high school students… and we were all afraid. We were scared that something like this could happen elsewhere, where children were gathered, maybe even in our school. Here we are, two decades later, still grappling with how to end violence in schools. What can we do to help solve this problem once and for all?
In sorting through my thoughts as a school leader, and purposefully avoiding the pitfalls of a political debate in this forum, I think most would agree:
We need to love our students. Each and every single one of our children who cross the threshold into our schools should have just entered a place where all are welcome, free to ask questions, explore, and set off on a journey to whom they will eventually become.
We should listen to one another. Parents have a lot to say. Kids have a lot to say. Educators have a lot to say. Through these words, as active listeners, we can validate one another and help one another along through life. In the event something is said that is threatening, we ask that everyone listen to the brave person who has decided to speak up, to alert us of a danger — all in an effort to maintain peace.
We should tell our story. Admit that we do not have all the answers, but we clearly know what we do and do not want. We do want our children to grow and develop and learn to their fullest potential. We do not want schools to be places where children get hurt. There’s a line there… clearly, between what we do and do not want. As an educational community, as a society, we need to patrol that line incessantly, to ensure we’re all doing our part to have safe schools and raise healthy children.

Our best plan is to remain proactive. Our priority is to refine and improve our plans so that they reflect best practice in school safety. Our mission for Forest Ridge School District remains: this is a place where “Children Always Come First.”