(Jill Wilson) – It is time to put our children first. We do not have any more time to make excuses. Our children need us to be heroes, by ensuring their future is safe within our school system, and their emotional needs are being met.
I have been an educator in Clark County for over 25 years, and have a total of 33 years teaching under my belt. I am the mom of three grown daughters I raised in Clark County, and a proud grandma of 2 young boys. Sadly, I am not confident about sending my two young grandsons to our schools. I am sure every parent and grandparent has similar concerns.
As far as I can see, we are a nation in crisis in regards to violence in our schools. The norm should not be, “What is going to happen today within our schools?” When an announcement comes in over the PA system I, my colleagues, and unfortunately the students take a deep breath thinking, “What now?”
It has always been my main and most important goal as an educator to have a safe haven for students and build community within my classroom. The sense of safety is gone. We need to regain this for the sake of the kids.
The issues we are dealing with are safety and the emotional needs of our kids not being met. I have been brought to tears by stories students and colleagues have shared about their life struggles, not knowing how to deal with issues, and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
Children need structure and their basic needs met to learn and thrive. What is happening within our schools is disheartening and there needs to be change.
From my experience in all the schools I have worked at, there is a support system in place and many people who care and genuinely want to meet the needs of all students’ emotional needs. These needs are tended to when there is a crisis, or a child, teacher, or parent reaches out for help. This leads to a reactive response from teachers, administrators, counselors, and health professionals.
I have two proposals.
First, let’s start being proactive. Every student has reading, math, and even lunch daily. No arguments there students need to read, write, and understand math. As well as, eating for health reasons. It would be absurd to take these away.
Why would mental health which is essential to a productive society, not be a daily priority? Every child, EVERY DAY should have a class in school that is taught by mental health professionals to teach coping skills, empathy, tolerance, building relationships, accountability, understanding consequences good and bad for actions.
Lastly, addressing the desensitizing effects social media is having on our society. This needs to start in pre-k and be ongoing through 12 grade.
This cannot be on teachers. They are not trained or have the expertise to deal with socio-emotional needs. They can support and help write plans that are appropriate for each grade level; however, the actual teaching, discussions, and activities need to be taught by mental health professionals.
A suggestion to get more mental health professionals into the school system could be to offer students in college majoring in social work, counseling, and psychology a fast track program where they could earn their master’s and commit to be part of the school system. There are fast track programs to get teachers trained and in classrooms; why not get mental health professionals in the classrooms too?
Again we are in a crisis. Let’s put resources, finances, and the best professionals together and start making changes.
This leads to my second proposal, which is to have an armed, trained officer or military person at every school – if needed, more than one depending on the size of the school. Parents, students, and all staff deserve and need to feel safe in their learning environment.
Having an armed officer would give everyone on each campus peace of mind to feel safe, lessen anxiety and stress. More importantly if an emergency situation arises, help would be on site and the situation can get under control timely, which ultimately saves lives.
With support and financing it is my hope to eliminate violence in our schools. The time to act is now. Let’s be heroes for our kids.