Perspectives: How Can We Keep Our Schools Safe
According to the Washington Post, during the first three months of 2018, there were at least 11 school shooting incidents nationwide, including the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 were killed. We asked three Columbia Union educators what they think we should do to keep our schools safe.
Dulce Gabriel, principal of New Jersey Conference’s Vine Haven Adventist School in Vineland
We have safety guidelines and procedures that promote safety on our campus. I have meetings with my staff and students to prepare them for certain types of emergency situations.
We also have started to collaborate with the police department from our town to make sure our procedures are effective. ... But, ultimately, we always put ourselves in the hands of the Lord. We start every day with prayer, asking for God’s protection.
Jack McCrary, superintendent of Allegheny West Conference schools
Besides making sure that our buildings are safe from individuals on the exterior and interior, we talk through survival and safety methods with our teachers during in-service. ... Running through the drills with children and teachers allows the students to know what to do so they aren’t in shock and will know what to do in the case of an emergency. ... We also monitor cameras and are thinking about installing an emergency button.
Michael Jakobsons, associate superintendent of Chesapeake Conference schools
The best way for us to keep our kids safe in our schools is making sure we have significant, deep relationships with our students so we know when they are struggling.
We can then be proactive and encouraging when they need encouragement, listen when they need someone to listen and be there as a mentor when needed. ... I think many of the problems that stem deep down from the recent [shooting] incidences are because students felt like nobody cared, nobody loved them. They were reaching out in the worst possible way to let everyone know they were hurting.