Thoughts on School Safety

I’m sure my thoughts and your thoughts have been on similar topics this week–mourning the tragic deaths of the students in Florida, struggling through the difficult conversations surrounding violence in our society, and then the one that has always kept me up at night–keeping our students safe at school.  This has been always been true for me, not just in light of the most recent tragedy.

In speaking with Lieutenant Jeremy Chavez (Porter County Sheriff’s Department, and PTSC School Resource Officer) this week, he shared some things that I thought were helpful.  I’d like to share them here with you.  Lieutenant Chavez said:

“I am often asked what I think of the “right” answer or what my thoughts are on the school shootings and the means and/or measures that are appropriate to stop them. Unfortunately, I have no “right” answer or cure all to stop these horrific acts. I do however believe we can take steps to greatly reduce our chances of something like this occurring in our building(s).

First off, we must all realize that we are ALL part of the solution. Its not one single person. Its not the SRO in your building or the principal or the superintendent or etc etc. Its all of us. We all must actively participate in the safety process and we must all be the ears and eyes for any signs of trouble or “red flags” that we may come across.

I do not have every social media account or access to every single post that someone may make nor would I have the time to view every single one. But our students for example do and they occasionally may come across things that they could report to a teacher, parent or other adult that could be looked into. Time and time again I read or watch news feeds (most recently the Florida shooting) of students or others that are being interviewed after a tragic incident in which the person interviewed will say they weren’t “surprised” that it was so and so. Or they will say they recall seeing a disturbing social media post prior to the incident occurring. When I see these things it makes me think that there possibly could have been an intervention that possibly occurred. Maybe just….maybe had that Snapchat, Tweet or Facebook post been made known, things may have ended differently. Who knows?? Just a thought.

Statistics show that almost every school shooting that has ever occurred were well thought out plans that had been planned for months and even years. The point is, these shooters more often then not don’t wake up one day and suddenly decide they are going to go shoot up a school. Look at the 3 most prolific shootings to ever have occurred…Klebold  & Harris (Columbine)…Cho (Virginia Tech) and finally Lanza (Sandy Hook) and you may recall when their homes were searched they found maps, pictures and well organized plans for their deadly destruction. All of these things are clues and we must work together to watch for these signs or warning flags. For every school shooting you hear of, there are at least a dozen or so that were thwarted because some brave soul came forward and alerted authorities to a red flag or something they had observed.

I’ll end with this. The bottom line is that we must talk to our students and empower them to take a part in their own safety. Unfortunately, I cannot be in every classroom or every corner of every building at one time. We must all work together. We must act together.

I will steal a line that I’m sure we’ve all heard. “IT TAKES A VILLAGE”.  Think about that and how it applies to this idea I am suggesting.  

The answer is you, me, everyone. It is all of us.”

I know for many parents I have heard that they know PTSC works hard to make school safety a priority.  But they want to know how they can help.  I think Lieutenant Chavez nails it–when he said it is all of us.  If you see something, hear something–say something.  That goes for parents and students.  Tell teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, principals, the school resource officer, guidance counselors, coaches–say something.  I can tell you that there are many situations I know of where are students have done this and it has allowed staff members to make sure that students are OK and families are aware and have resources that they need.  This is the way we can all be involved in keeping our schools safe.

Mr. Parrish (ben.parrish@ptsc.k12.in.us), our Chief Safety Officer, put this together this week that I thought was helpful to share with you as well.

The safety and security of Porter Township students is our top priority.  At Porter Township, we live and breathe school safety every day.  We have an extensive school safety plan that is rooted in current best practices and has been developed in collaboration with school safety specialists, the Porter County Emergency Management Agency, local law enforcement, the countywide School Safety Commission, and our district School Resource Officers.  The school safety plan is continuously evaluated and reviewed to afford our students the highest level of safety.  We can’t share specific details regarding our response plan, as that would compromise the plan and put students and staff at a disadvantage, but we do want to share the following points regarding our plan:

  • In June of 2014 we conducted a complete overhaul of our response plan and safety protocol.
  • We have 12 Indiana Certified School Safety Specialists on staff, and will be sending additional personnel to receive this training in the Fall of 2018.
  • In February of 2017, we expanded our School Resource Officer program to include three Porter County Sheriff’s Department officers allowing us to have an officer in the school district each day of the week.
  • PTSC utilizes a multifaceted approach to school safety, including providing assistance and support to students for mental health and family issues.
  • We stress to students and staff if they “See Something, Hear Something, Say Something.”
  • Our staff conducts thorough investigations, that include our School Resource Officers, and take appropriate actions when provided information regarding potential threats.
  • The district provides extensive training to all staff (teachers, custodians, bus drivers, administrators, cafeteria staff, office staff) on how to respond to an active assailant and how to best keep your kids safe.
  • Staff and students conduct training drills in all school buildings multiple times a year.
  • We have specific protocol, and provide continuous training for our office staff regarding allowing individuals entry to our schools.
  • All district personnel utilize the School Guard App. Learn more at http://schoolguard.guard911.com/

Most importantly, school safety is everyone’s responsibility.  It takes a multifaceted approach and the dedication of all staff, students, parents, and community members to make our schools as safe as possible.  I can assure you that the safety of our students is our top priority and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that we are doing everything we can as a school district to combat potential acts of school violence.”

We continue to read, learn, collaborate with others and revise our plan as needed.  Please continue to be part of our team and if you see something or hear something, say something!

 

Important Dates:

  • Approved 2018-2019 Calendar
  • March 13:  End of Third Quarter
  • March 14:  BGMS and BGHS Online Day
  • March 26-30:  Spring Break, No School
  • April 2:  Snow Day Make-Up Day (Currently we will not have school this day–fingers crossed!)
  • April 18:  BGMS and BGHS Online Day
  • May 24:  End of Quarter 4 and Second Semester
  • May 24:  Last Day for students
  • May 25:  Potential Snow Day make-up day
  • May 28:  Memorial Day
  • June 1:  BGHS Graduation

Things to Know/Do:

  • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
  • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
  • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.
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Parent Survey for the Indiana Graduation Pathways

I have posted previously about the proposed Indiana Graduation Pathways. In December, the State Board of Education approved those Pathways, despite many hours of testimony primarily against the plan as it was presented. While there were good ideas within the plan, many of us feared that it was too fast to approve a plan that had so many details left to be developed.

I have been asked by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents to serve on a Superintendent’s advisory panel to the State Board of Education as they prepare guidance documents on the new Graduation Pathways. In order to provide me with some insight for that group as well as to provide guidance on what we need to develop at PTSC, I have developed a short survey to get your feedback and input to drive the guidance documents developed. The survey is not long, and if you would be willing to take a few minutes to complete it I would greatly appreciate it!

Indiana Graduation Pathways Approved Plan 

PTSC Indiana Graduation Pathways Panel Survey

PTSC Standouts:

Congratulations to BGMS student, Ty Knight on being chosen by Senator Charbonneau to be a Senate Page!  Great work!

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Congratulations to our BGHS High School students who performed in the Madrigal.  The Madrigal Performance was recently featured on Lakeshore PBS’ Segment “Eye on the Arts.”  Fantastic and great work to all involved!

Do you have a standout to include in this section?  Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us to make sure your standout is included.  She counts on you to send her updates all can celebrate PTSC student accomplishments!

Important Dates:

  • Approved 2018-2019 Calendar
  • January 24:  BGMS and BGHS Online Day
  • February 14:  BGMS and BGHS Online Day
  • February 16:  Snow Day Make-Up Day (Currently we will not have school this day–fingers crossed!)
  • February 19:  President’s Day–No School
  • March 13:  End of Third Quarter
  • March 14:  BGMS and BGHS Online Day
  • March 26-30:  Spring Break, No School
  • April 2:  Snow Day Make-Up Day (Currently we will not have school this day–fingers crossed!)
  • April 18:  BGMS and BGHS Online Day
  • May 24:  End of Quarter 4 and Second Semester
  • May 24:  Last Day for students
  • May 25:  Potential Snow Day make-up day
  • May 28:  Memorial Day
  • June 1:  BGHS Graduation

Things to Know/Do:

  • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
  • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
  • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.

 

Head of Nursing Services for PTSC

We are looking for a Head of Nursing Services candidate.  This position must have a four-year, registered nurse (RN) degree.  This is a great position for an RN looking to work during the school year with a schedule typical to that of their children.  It’s a great position for an RN that loves students!  It’s a great position for an RN that wants to work in a supportive, family environment!  In short, it’s a great position and we are looking for the right person!

If you know someone who might be interested, you can direct them to the posting.

PTSC Standouts:

Kim Corman, Angela Long, and Kyle Isch were all nominated for the Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Inspiring Educator Award!  These teachers were chosen as they:

  • Demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in their educational profession.
  • Develop students to reach their full academic potential.
  • Provide an outstanding learning environment within their sphere of influence.
  • Demonstrate the value of community by contributing time and energy to improve the quality life in the community.
  • Congratulations, Mrs. Corman, Mrs. Long, and Mr. Isch on this recognition!  You have inspired many students along the way!

    Do you have a standout to include in this section?  Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us to make sure your standout is included.  She counts on you to send her updates all can celebrate PTSC student accomplishments!

    Important Dates:

    • November 11:  Craft Fair at BGHS at 9 AM
    • November 15:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
    • November 19:  Mattress Fundraiser for the BG Athletic Department

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    • November 22-24:  No School, Thanksgiving Break
    • December 9-10:  Madrigal Dinner at BGHS–get your tickets now before the sell out!

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    • December 22:  End of second quarter and first semester
    • December 23-January 7:  No School, Winter Break

    Things to Know/Do:

    • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
    • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
    • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.

    Graduation Pathways Recommendation

    There has been a committee working at the state level (consisting mainly of folks who are not public school educators) to create a graduation pathway recommendation for the State of Indiana. This recommendation will go to the Indiana Department of Education for approval.  I have attached a draft of their recommendations.  Please note that as of 2022, students must satisfy all three requirements.  Within each requirement there are choices for how to achieve that requirement.  In the second page of the document there are further details including the impact on students graduating prior to 2022.

    Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 11.10.58 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 11.11.02 AM

    You may submit public comment at gradpathways_comment@sboe.in.gov until the December 1, 2017 Indiana State Board of Education meeting.  The final decision on the graduation pathways is expected to be made at the December 1 State Board of Education meeting.

     

    PTSC Standouts:

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    Check out BGE 5th grade teacher Amanda Hurley!  Miss Hurley takes her school spirit to a whole new level and brought joy to all with her zany outfit!

    Congratulations to our BGHS football team–they are headed to the Sectional Championship game this Friday night at 7pm!

    Do you have a standout to include in this section?  Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us to make sure your standout is included.  She counts on you to send her updates all can celebrate PTSC student accomplishments!

    Important Dates:

    • November 15:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
    • November 22-24:  No School, Thanksgiving Break
    • December 22:  End of second quarter and first semester
    • December 23-January 7:  No School, Winter Break

    Things to Know/Do:

    • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
    • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
    • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.

    Speak Up 2017

    Here’s a great chance to be part of research on digital learning!  Please see the instructions below and take a handful of minutes to provide your input!

    Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 3.38.25 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-23 at 3.38.40 PM

    PTSC Standouts:

     

    Guy Fisher, from Goodwill, reports the following about the drive to help with Hurricane Relief Efforts:  “I’m happy to report that the drive resulted in $1,000 being sent to Hurricane relief in Southeast Texas.  Goodwill Industries of Michiana (your Goodwill region) sent a total (to date) of $5,000 to our sister Goodwills in that region. Those Goodwill operations are in the heart of the impact area and are working directly with families in need.”  Thank you to all who donated, and to Kathy Lis for organizing and making this possible!  Great job!

    Did you hear about the virtual field trip the 5th graders at BGE took last week?  Paris, Outer Space, the Smithsonian (just to name a few)–awesome job and great opportunities for our students!

    Do you have a standout to include in this section?  Email PTSC standouts to Dr. Schmidt at stacey.schmidt@ptsc.k12.in.us to make sure your standout is included.  She counts on you to send her updates all can celebrate PTSC student accomplishments!

    Important Dates:

    • October 23:  Parent/Teacher conferences for all students
    • October 24:  Parent/Teacher conferences BGMS and BGHS
    • October 26:  No School, Fall Break
    • October 27:  No School, Fall Break
    • November 15:  Online Day for BGHS and BGMS
    • November 22-24:  No School, Thanksgiving Break
    • December 22:  End of second quarter and first semester
    • December 23-January 7:  No School, Winter Break

    Things to Know/Do:

    • Now hiring substitute teachers! Please contact Linda Dusek at the administration building if you are interested in substitute teaching and she will help you start the application process and discuss qualifications.
    • Do your friends and neighbors know how to find our weekly updates? Even if your neighbors don’t have kids in school tell them about our weekly updates so they can hear the great news of what happens at PTSC!
    • Every Wednesday is a 30-minute delayed start. If we have a 2-hour delay, students will arrive at school 2 hours after the regular start time for the building.