A participant in one of my workshops once referred to me as a “school safety evangelist.” It’s a pretty intriguing title and very complimentary as this person recognized my passion for keeping schools safe.
But the “school safety evangelist” title can be a hard one to live up to when you’re also self-employed, middle-aged with your own family and elders to care for, and juggling the related challenges life sends your way.
The past couple weeks have been exceptionally challenging. I had the pleasure of once again leading two workshops at the National School Boards Association annual convention where I also had a book signing and hours of talking with school board members and administrators at our exhibit hall booth, plus a 5:20am live national cable news interview and the usual travel fun with car services and airports. After a quick visit to home, my colleagues and I headed off for a week in Texas to help a school board and superintendent work with their school-community following two gun confiscation incidents.
While out being an evangelist, my newest “child” — this blog — was a bit neglected. It was not intentional and, quite frankly, it generated a little stress in the back of my mind as I pursued my other pressing tasks. Although I was still researching and interviewing for an upcoming special series of blog posts, my daily posts were not as consistent over those two weeks.
So what does this have to do with you? A lot.
School principals are busy people. When your school is filled with hundreds or several thousand students, you have a small city on your hands. And like any small city, and particularly one made up of kids, you’re going to spend your day running from one urgent matter to the next — even on a good day.
Today’s school principal plays the role of a counselor, doctor, psychiatrist, accountant, facilities engineer, community relations guru, police officer, social worker, food services provider, parent, CEO of a staff of diverse personalities with a wide range of duties, and believe or not, even an academic leader.
In my 25+ years in the education field, I have learned that student safety tops the list of most educators. But today’s other demands, such as managing declining budgets and improving test scores, has forced many well-intended educators to put proactive school security and emergency planning on the back burner as they keep their heads above water each day.
Many school leaders have a passion for school safety and look at their safety plans as their special “child,” but in too many school districts this child is being neglected due to the demands put upon school leaders. Parents and educators need to realize that just like my struggle to not neglect my newest child, my blog, they cannot afford to unintentionally neglect school safety and crisis planning.
Nobody will be physically injured or killed if they go a few days without a new blog post. But in today’s min-cities called “schools,” we can’t say the same outcome will occur if educators neglect their duties as school safety evangelists at their school.
Let’s all promise do a little bit better to keep our children’s most important need, their safety, on the front burner.
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