Our Reality: Schools in the Modern Age

Posted by Charles Sampson on 2/23/2018

The tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida has shined a light on a larger conversation of what it means to be safe in schools in 2018. There are no easy answers as we move forward. The Freehold Regional High School District continues to review and refine all security protocols, maintain constant dialogue with our local law enforcement agencies and communicate with our school community with the goal of ensuring a collaborative approach to school safety.

In some instances, there are factors that work counter to this collaborative approach that are important to address. The proliferation of social media allows for the constant and rapid flow of information and, unfortunately, at times, this information is often unsubstantiated and inaccurate. It is appropriate to “see something and say something” as we have all been encouraged to do in order to be proactive. It is equally important to confirm the accuracy of a social media post before forwarding and potentially creating unnecessary fear and panic. In the days following the Parkland shooting, we have found ourselves needing to contact parents and community members about social media posts that are uninformed and contribute to the spread of fear and suspicion through our community. We are all accountable for the children we serve and our collective responsibility to this effort ensures a culture that does not create undue fear by spreading false information regarding our students and schools.

Our greatest asset is our collective will and fortitude to work together to ensure that schools remain institutions of learning and not walled fortresses. Our schools must be environments that promote warmth, risk-taking and collaboration to support all students in reaching their potential and finding their paths toward success in endeavors beyond our walls. Our schools must serve as beacons of the highest form of humanity-places where our children, our most precious resource, are nurtured to make smart decisions, embraced for who they are, and challenged to be the best they can be.

Our schools can only make good on these promises to our children if we do not surrender to a culture of fear. We will continue to examine all facets of our safety and security plans. And, we will embrace that challenge with our guiding belief - our schools must be safe and orderly environments for all students to learn, grow and thrive.