“All students and staff learn and work best in a safe, secure, and nurturing environment,” says GFPS Belief Statement #4. Ain’t that the truth? It’s hard to learn and work when you don’t feel safe, secure or nurtured. Two things have brought this belief right to the forefront to me in the last couple of weeks: a threat of violence at GFHS and an article in the CMR student newspaper titled, “Student Voices: What do you think should be the priority for the Great Falls school board?” In both cases, the obvious response should be:
I will address the latter first.
In the CMR article, one of the student writers asks the school board to recognize students as people because “they are handling the next generation”. I couldn’t agree more and I am confident the Board supports this concept as well. It is his lead-up to this statement, however, that bothered me. He indicates that some students “get degrading and horrible treatment” by teachers. He states that this kind of treatment “fractures the bond” and “lowers their chance of success in the class.” I agree with this too: degrading and horrible treatment does not make for safe, secure and nurturing environments. My heart sank when I read this. If accurate, I can’t defend this kind of treatment of students, nor can the school board. It is just plain wrong. As I tend to do, my mind began to ask questions: Why does this have to be written in a student newspaper to get attention? When witnessing “degrading and horrible treatment, why don’t we say something to a trusted adult so it can be stopped?
Saying something works. This was absolutely true at GFHS last week. Something wasn’t right, the student recognized it, and she said something about it. The threat was thwarted, and safety and security ruled the day. In my mind, this student is a hero. As noted in the Say Something Call to Action Planning Guide, “Too often after an act of youth violence, facts come out that friends suspected or knew something was going to happen, but didn’t know what to do with that information. In fact, in 7 out of 10 acts of gun violence, at least one other person knew of the shooter’s intent, but said nothing. Additionally, 70% of people who complete suicide told someone of their plans or gave some type of warning or indication.”
Just imagine how much tragedy, degradation and poor treatment could be stopped if individuals would just say something? GFPS is going to continue to work on enhancing the culture in our teaching and learning environments to ensure that students and staff are empowered to say something to a trusted adult anytime and every time something is amiss. A safe, secure and nurturing environment is essential, and so are the trusting relationships and organizational pride that serve to guarantee it. Stay tuned for more information on this important topic. In the meantime, support those who say something.
Take care. Be safe. Stay well.