My heart has been heavy for the last two weeks. In the midst of a day that focused on hearts and love, tragic news greeted us in the late afternoon that yet one more school had been the center of violence at the hands of a troubled teen. I shed a few tears and said prayers on behalf of those whose grief will forever run deep. Surely, everyone felt the heartache of a school, a community, and our nation.
So how should we respond in our school to such tragic news? What is the right answer? Always, our goal is to do all that we can to ensure that our students do not worry and that they feel school is a safe and secure place. In fact, even though it may be hard to remember at the moment, our schools are incredibly safe. Our students are surrounded each day by a cadre of “momma and papa bears.” We are vigilant, alert, visible, and present at all times. We have safety procedures in place, and we practice them routinely. Our students know to always follow their teacher’s guidance and lead. As law enforcement officers have instructed us, we are, in fact, the local first responders. We take that responsibility seriously. In addition, and of great importance, we know our students. We work hard to build trusting relationships with them, and we provide compassionate, listening ears. Our teachers are attuned to the emotional needs of the students and they reach out, offering support with loving care. To be sure, the open communication and partnership we share with parents on behalf of our students is a key ingredient.
The message that we continue to emphasize with our students is the importance of kindness and compassion shown toward one another. It begins with how we, the adults, model this for them. We cannot state loudly and often enough the effect that kind words and the listening ear of a friend, a teacher, or a colleague contribute to making not only a safe and secure environment for our students, but also a place where they know that they belong. These simple actions have the ability to drive out the fear that could consume us, replacing it instead with love. My prayer is that each day we may all enter this sacred space we call St. Michael’s, trusting that the One who has gone before us, also walks with us each day along the road.
Head of School