As a parent of two young children, the events in Newtown at Sandy Hook Elementary School continue to haunt me. As a Director of a Child Care Center, I feel that my job has forever changed. A sense of security has been robbed from all of us and like many school administrators across our state and country; I begin to relook at our policies and procedures.
I find this process to be extremely emotionally challenging. I find myself lying in bed late at night, thinking about different scenarios that could occur at my center and how I can protect my students and staff to the best of my ability. During the past month I have contacted our local Police Department and Fire Marshal for extensive consultations and suggestions. Our Board of Directors has also met a number of times to fine tune policies and procedures. I continue to research high-tech security systems in hopes in making our facility as secure as possible.
Yet, still so many questions run through my mind: If faced with a threatening situation…. How can my infant room teacher get four babies to a safe location? How can my toddler teacher keep eight two year olds quiet if needed? Will my staff be able to recall our procedures in the event of real threat? How will we explain lockdown drills to our preschoolers? How can I help parents feel safe, how can I help staff to feel safe? I am saddened that these are thoughts and scenarios that I have to prepare for now.
Since the terrible day in Newtown, I often think about the Principal of Sandy Hook Elementary. Dawn Hochsprung acted swiftly in her attempt to stop the gunman in order to save her students and staff. And it is in honor of her that I, as well as hundreds of administrators across our country, will do all we can do to make our schools safer. We will not let violence over-take our schools and centers. We will not let fear stop us from delivering quality care and education. Most of all we will not let terror stop us from teaching children how to love themselves and one another.
Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the families, children and staff in Newtown. We will never forget.
For resources on dealing with the aftermath of school violence ... visit NAEYC's page on "Coping with Violence"?