"Tressie Armstrong is a shining star, a model for how to build a strong, trusting school community that can and will do the right thing should the worst thing imaginable occur. When bad things happen, it is too late to talk. Armstrong started early." — Susan Scott
The reality of the world we currently live in is that a school needs to have safety plan. It's no longer a nice to have, and instead, it is a must. Educators are faced with asking themselves incredibly difficult questions; what happens when the unthinkable becomes reality? When the unimaginable is happening to your students and teachers? How do we support the individuals, the school, and the community to cope with the aftermath?
At the core of any solid safety plan are the relationships of the people who will execute on it. Strong relationships in that school and community before the crisis happen are critical.
For one California principal, Tressie Armstrong, this was never more true than when a lone gunman hopped a fence and opened fire on 250 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders on the playground of Kelly Elementary school. In the most recent Learning Forward, JSD Article, Tressie recounts her story and shares how the honest and courageous conversations she had before the event, and the relationships that had been built prior, directly impacted the healing of that community.
"During this very intense time, we had to rely on relationships built ahead of time, not only with each other, but also with first responders and district leaders. We were in this together, standing side by side with each other to move through the turmoil. While we were in lockdown, one father, waiting in the neighboring park to receive updates as the situation unfolded, texted me to ask, “I know you have my son safe. How can I help YOU?” I asked him to begin organizing people in the park and help calm the parents waiting there."
As an educator, is your school having the conversation?