School Safety is everyone’s concern!
I have spent the last three afternoons attending a virtual school safety summit. In the sessions, we have learned about cyber security, physical hardening of school spaces, and the importance of violence prevention with advance systems. The goal is to help students know they are safe to report any concerns to the adults who work with them every day. Finally, I gained knowledge of many resources and tools for school systems to utilize in creating the safest environment possible for our students.

As I engage in this training, I am encouraged by the many things we have already accomplished around school safety as well as the planning we continue to do to improve all of these areas even more. As the experts outline best practices, we have already implemented many of them or are in the process of integration right now. I would like to highlight a few of the areas of our work for your knowledge.

The most important work I think we are doing in the Valley is the proactive work that happens to reassure our students that school is a safe and secure place to be. The work that has been in process at our Junior and Senior High School has been in the realm of building our advisory class norms and values. Both students and staff have been happy with the outcomes of advisory. The students set measurable goals for themselves with their advisor teacher’s input. They learn life skills lessons through our TRAILS program and they have a shared interest, competition, or hobby as a class. This is a time for students to interact with peers, their teacher, and their classmates in competitions or building-wide challenges such as the Olympics they held during Homecoming Week. Creating this space has put emphasis on relationships which have been shown over and over to be protective practices for keeping all students safer, more engaged, and more likely to inform if they are worried about any potential violence or to report something that concerns them. Trusting and valued relationships keep us all safer and help kids weather other stressors and challenges as well. Everyone should have at least one teacher they feel is always there for them, and our Advisory is making that even more likely for our students.

Positive Behavior Intervention Supports (PBIS) are happening at our two elementary buildings also and have many of the same outcomes. Last Friday was a great afternoon at Fuller Street School as students were drawn at random from a huge barrel full of ROAR tickets issued for our students making great choices. Those students were able to pick a staff member onto whom they wanted to dump pumpkin guts. It was fun to see the kids so excited and energized to be silly with their teachers and Mr. Harvey. I was excited to exert some executive privilege and also dump some extra pumpkin innards onto Mr. Harvey’s head! Maplewood will be holding their PBIS rewards party this Friday as well and if you have a child there, you should ask them how much fun and what kind of memories they made at that event too! When I talk with parents and grandparents, we always remember those events and activities that had a great sense of excitement and fun about them. Watching our students at every level experience joy and fun is a marvelous way to know we are creating lifelong memories for our students.

Fun fact: Thus far this school year, we have served 14, 155 breakfast meals and 23, 297 lunch meals to our students. Student nutrition and energy are critical components to learning readiness.

It is a great day to be in the Valley!

Dr. B