Don Shomette

People are the Prize


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Boston Tragedy

I’d like to extend my prayers as well as deepest sympathy to the families of those who have lost a loved one and to the innocent lives broken by this terrible act of violence. And for the police officers, soldiers, firemen, and others who rushed to help the victims. Seeing what they saw is deeply disturbing and those images will remain with them through the rest of their lives.

May the suffering ease with time.

I hate even saying this…but some will not be revolted by this tragedy. In fact, it may even propel them to commit their own act of violence. We have to not only suffer through this, but we also have to take steps to protect ourselves from further harm.

Here are some ideas that I hope are helpful.

1.STAND UP IF YOU CAN:
Every person and school will be impacted differently by this. Some because of their distance from the event will suffer less. Some schools will lose teachers, staff members, parents, or students and I shudder to think of the pain this will cause. If you’ve never been through one of these things before, it can be overwhelming. However, there are always one or two people who stand up and become the leaders. They show extraordinary compassion and judgment and they make what would otherwise be unbearable, bearable. If you can do it, try to be one of those people. Take charge, stand up and give a little bit more. Never underestimate how much you’re needed!

2.MAKE IMMEDIATE CONTACT:
Send an encouraging note to your students, parents, teachers and staff. Let them know that you are there for them, that you care, and that together you will make it through this. Encourage them to come forward with any concern—regardless of how minor it may seem!

3.BE HIGHLY VISIBLE:
For the next few days, be highly visible. Walk the halls, be outside in the drop off and pick up zones, eat in the lunchroom, or even consider placing a table in the front entrance of your school. Let the parents know you’ll be there and invite them to come in for a cup of coffee and to talk. Be relaxed but ready, approachable and highly visible!

4.NOTHING IS ISOLATED:
I once gave a class in Missouri and I talked about a major crime that occurred in Florida nearly thirty years earlier. When I finished the training, an SRO came up to me and told me that he had been there the day it happened. In fact, he had been one of the last people to see the victim alive. The Boston Marathon is a national event. People travel from all across America to participate. There will be people in your school who will be deeply impacted by this tragedy either directly or indirectly. They may know someone who was present at the tragedy or have suffered a loss recently and this may trigger PTSD. Make counselors available and tell the teachers and staff members to be on the lookout for anyone (including teachers and staff members) who are showing signs that they are hurting.

5.LEAN ON YOUR TEAM:
Never go it alone. Every person in your school has an obligation to prevent violence. Especially remind your teachers to look and listen for any indicators of danger such as spontaneous utterances, drawings, texts, or obsessive behavior such as constantly wanting to discuss the attack or repeated questions that reveal a deep and morbid fascination with the attack.

If you have any questions or concerns or need a sounding board for a particular case, please feel free to call or email. Several have already done so and I’d be happy to help in any way I can. We need everyone helping—students, teachers, staff, parents, and others in the community to make our schools safer.

That includes me…


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Favorite Teacher

One SMALL thing that will make a BIG difference…

During class change or while at lunch, informally survey a few students and ask them who their favorite teacher has been this school year.  After they give you a name, ask why.  Then, later in the day stop by and visit that teacher and tell them, “I was talking to some students today and they told me that you were their favorite teacher.  They said you were…  I just wanted you to know.”

How much do you think this little act of kindness will mean to that teacher? 

And for the record, this is not flattery but praise.  Praise for a job well done.  It will only take a few minutes of your time, but everyone wins and wins big.  You make positive contact with the students, you make some lucky teacher’s day—maybe week, month, or even year—and you’ve enhanced your relationship with a peer which is something we should all be striving to improve, especially if that relationship has been less than perfect.  This may not fix it, but it will certainly make it a whole lot better.       

So, whether you’re a superintendent, principal, SRO, security officer, counselor, or whatever—take the time today to praise your peers for their hard work. 

They’re worth a little extra effort on your part!