Teachers and administrators have moments they share with students that remind them of why they became involved in education. I think of those as “moments that matter”. Whether it’s in the classroom when a concept finally clicks, on the field when a student scores the winning touchdown or on the stage when a student shares their creative talents, we can all relate to the sense of pride we have in our students’ accomplishments. But there are also some moments that make us take pause and reflect on what’s most important in our role as educators – keeping our students safe. And it was one of those moments, one of the most dangerous of my administrative career, that eventually led me to where I am today. As one of the newest members of the CENTEGIX team, I want to partner with administrators to keep our schools safe by empowering them to protect the learning environment, so that students and teachers can focus on what really matters.
In September 2008, during my first year as principal of Newton High School, my staff and I spent days preparing for our annual talent show. We expected several hundred students and community members to attend, so all administrators, school resource officers and additional security were prepared to monitor the crowd for any inappropriate activity. During the talent show, a teacher overheard rumblings that something was about to happen. Unfortunately, the teacher could not communicate the threat due to the crowd size and noise. Within minutes, the auditorium erupted, and the aftermath led to several injuries and arrests. This event changed my leadership approach and renewed my focus on the safety of my students, faculty and staff.
Like many of you, I realized that every minute spent dealing with an issue is a minute away from teaching, learning and the moments that matter. For students to achieve their potential in the classroom, first, we must provide a safe environment. There were many safety resources at my disposal, with each serving a purpose but also exposing gaps if not part of a comprehensive approach. Cameras cannot capture every area of a school. School resource officers can’t be everywhere at every moment. Two-way radios were not practical for everyone, and reliable cellular service can be a challenge across campus. Back then, there was not a way for every adult in the school to call for help quickly and easily from anywhere on campus. Thinking back to that talent show, I know a wearable badge like our CENTEGIX CrisisAlert could have supported my teacher in getting help quickly and may have prevented the situation from getting out of hand.
I eventually transitioned to the business side of education and have had the pleasure of working with prominent companies like PowerSchool and Amplify, as well as innovative non-profits like New Leaders and Innovations for Learning. My work with these organizations has allowed me to stay connected to my passion – the learning experiences of our students. Through these opportunities I continued to realize providing a safe learning environment is the first step in promoting high academic achievement. I truly believe that every adult has a role in making schools as safe as they can be. CENTEGIX strives to make that a reality and it is why I chose to become part of the team. I look forward to sharing with you how we can help your school create a safe learning environment for all your students and teachers to share in the joy of moments that matter.