Every school superintendent, administrator, teacher, support staff member, parent and student was undoubtedly affected by last week’s senseless tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. There is no reasonable way to understand or explain the what, the why and the how of deranged violence. Innocent children and educators gunned down in a place that is supposed to celebrate the future rather than have it ended? I don’t even have the words to explain my anger. The words I do have don’t seem to say much. In reading an article in the New Yorker Magazine last week, the message I was penning seemed ridiculous in light of what the author wrote:
“…not least the e-mails, sure to come to any parent with kids still in school anywhere in the country, offering “tips on talking to children about violence” and promising that your child’s school “has been performing lockdown drill protocols that our security team and consultants have recommended to ensure that we are prepared in the unlikely event that an incident occurs.” We have normalized gun killings to the point that we must now be reassured that, when the person with the AR-15 comes to your kid’s school, there’s a plan to cope with him.”
I was writing those very same messages trying to reassure everyone that it was going to be ok but as I reread them, they seemed hollow and weak. How can I look anyone in the eye and say that our plan will be THE PLAN that will mitigate something like this in one of our schools? I can’t. I can only say that our number one priority is keeping our students and staff safe to the best of our abilities. We have prevention plans, crisis response protocols and a plethora of other activities that are supposed to just that. And of course, we need the help of our entire community to be mindful of anything out of the ordinary and to report it to the District, to law enforcement, to our SROs, or to medical professionals. But at the end of the day, the solutions are going to have to be much bigger than any of those things. I will continue to work with anyone and everyone on solutions that can take us to a new normal: one that doesn’t include senseless violence.
Until we get there, my heart breaks for the victims of the past, the current, and unfortunately, the future tragedies, and my heart is with all of you as you continue to enhance relationships with others. While I don’t have any answers, I do know that love and compassion are part of the equation. I also know that love and compassion are alive and well in GFPS. For that, I am thankful and reassured.
Take care. Stay well. BE SAFE!