On the evening of December 11, 2012 I presented to a class of graduate students on the topic of safe, positive, and efficient learning environments. There were approximately 15 students in this class at The College of New Jersey. All of the students were working toward their masters degree in educational leadership. During the discussion we talked about safety procedures, drills, and the role of the administrator. We also focused on positive learning environments and how this just does not automatically happen. Educational leaders need to work hard to achieve these goals which are so important to every learning community.
Three days later the unthinkable occurs at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. I know that all of our thoughts and prayers go out to the members of the Sandy Hook school community.
Sandy Hook has been recognized for its positive learning environment and for the efforts that have been made to provide for the safety of the children. The principal of Sandy Hook has also been described as a proactive and positive educational leader.
Obviously my thoughts turn to our school district and the wonderful children, teachers, support staff, and parents that comprise our vibrant learning community. We believe that our learning environment is also a very positive and safe place to teach and learn. Our school district has spent a great deal of money on security to include cameras, keyless access, locked entrances, and the recent renovations at OTS that included better monitoring at the front entrance of the building. Safety drills are also held on a regular basis at each school.
With all that said; the fact remains that we can never be completely satisfied with the safety and security measures that we have taken to date. Sandy Hook upgraded their electronic equipment and prepared the staff and students through regular drills, also.
The administrative team at Tewksbury is meeting to look at ways to further enhance security and safety at both OTS and TES. We need to evaluate our equipment and safety protocols. We will look at everything from sign in and signing out procedures to the manner in which visitors are provided access to our schools. We plan to meet with the facility committee of the Board and address the topic at our upcoming Board of Education meetings. We certainly are open to suggestions and input from everyone.
The events of December 14 have touched a nation. Parents and grandparents from every city and town in the county have viewed the recent events with tears and a great deal of compassion for the families of another wonderful community. I know that what we are doing at Tewksbury will be repeated in schools across the country. Our children are our most valuable resource. We will do whatever it takes to protect them!