Dear Grant School Families,
In light of the recent tragedy that took place last week in Parkland, Florida, I wanted to reach out to you to share some thoughts. I do this not only as the Superintendent/Principal of the Grant Elementary School District, but also as a concerned parent. As I interact with our families and our staff members, we all have the same concerns and questions. Are our kids safe? Is our school safe?
You have heard me say it before…student safety is our top priority and it is District Goal #1, literally. Everything that we do as a district is to create and maintain learning environments where students, staff, and parents feel welcome and safe. We know that a student that does not feel safe at school will not learn at school. Every person at Grant is here to help your student be safe and we take that responsibility very seriously.
As part of that responsibility, we have worked together as a staff to develop a comprehensive plan for student safety. This plan has been designed with parent and law enforcement input and features detailed responses to a wide range of emergency situations. We review this plan regularly and we practice elements of our emergency response throughout the year. I hope this provides you some assurance in these tumultuous times.
Still, I can honestly say that it is not enough. As I watch tragic events occur and as we discuss their repercussions as a staff, we are constantly asking ourselves what more can be done? What more can be done to provide support for students that are having a hard time academically or socially? What more can be done to support our families that might be going through a rough patch? What more can be done to make our campus safer tomorrow than it is today? What more can be done to eliminate bullying and promote kindness and empathy?
These are tough questions but I want to share with you our commitment to find answers. We are working as a Grant School family to review everything we are doing to keep kids safe and striving to do better. Our School Counselor Colleen Thompson works diligently with aides and teachers to talk to kids and help them learn the social and emotional skills that they need to be happy and healthy. Our Personal Growth teacher Jackie Williams has worked with Shasta County resources to help our staff be trained in suicide prevention and intervention and she has scheduled the training for her middle school students later this year. We have worked with our PTO to purchase and install our first automated external defibrillator (AED) to keep our young athletes safe. Also our education foundation, CEF, recently helped us to launch a new Anonymous Alerts reporting tool that allows students to use their voice as empowered bystanders to do something about unsafe behavior that they see during the day.
I could go on to tell you everything that our staff members do on a daily basis to help students be safe. I guess I share this to show you two things. The first is that school safety is a dynamic thing made up of everything from food allergies in the cafeteria to bus evacuation drills for new students, and everything in between. The second is that Grant School is not passive when it comes to safety. On the contrary, we want to be relentless in the pursuit of safety.
I can assure you that in the near future you will see additional steps that we will take to help our school be as safe as possible. The latest round of safety drills taught us specific things that we can do to improve and we are making changes so that we can be better prepared in the event of an actual emergency. Please know that we are looking at everything (plans, facilities, systems, etc.) to make sure that it is the best thing to do in order to keep our students safe, from the Yellow House to the middle school.
Here’s the bottom line…I see you drop off your students in the morning and I realize that you are leaving a huge piece of your world with us every day. I see you look at me and my colleagues, especially recently, with that look of expectation that everything is going to be alright. I see the trust that you have in us on your faces and I want to do everything that I can to merit that trust and assure you that your student is going to be safe today at Grant School. I hope that we as a district have earned your trust. We cannot do anything in this school business without trust existing between us.
On a wall in my office I have a quote from Margaret Mead that seems very timely right now. She once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Ain’t that the truth! You have heard me say this before, but if you have ideas or suggestions that would help make Grant School be a safer place, please share it with me. More importantly, if something has happened and we have lost your trust, let’s talk. Give us a chance to fix it.
One last thought from the other side of the safety coin…When it comes to safety, we have to be working together. We have to be vigilant together. We have to support each other. On that note, I plead with you to help us make Grant School the safest place that it can be by doing your part to follow school rules. Please remember that if we have a rule or a policy in place it is probably done with the intent to keep kids safe. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to follow it? It is wonderful that you are visiting the campus and you are welcome to do so. Please check in to the Main Office and grab a Visitor sticker so we can identify you. During parent drop off and pick up, please don’t park and leave your vehicle next to signs that say “No Parking”. All of these little things add up to student safety. It takes all of us working together to keep Grant safe from threats without and accidents and unsafe situations within.
We can do better and we will to ensure that every student at Grant feels safe. Thanks for all that you do to help us and I look forward to a safer spring. Let’s Expect the Best every day. GO COUGARS!