With the start of the school year, all the schools in the district are beginning to conduct fire, shelter in place, evacuation and lockdown drills. Unfortunately, the latter three are just a reality of the world we live in now.

In my house, lockdown drills bring the most questions, conversations and “what if’s” from my nine and six year old’s. Trying to strike a balance of how to calm their fears while also reinforcing the importance of having a plan, is an ongoing struggle.

I continually remind my children that all the adults in their school have a plan to keep them safe if anything were to happen. From being in the schools so much over the past few years as a volunteer and talking with administrators, police officers and experiencing several lockdown drills myself, I can say that the district and the Sparta Police Department have done an excellent job of ensuring the safety of our children and appropriately preparing our staff.

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That being said, school security and safety needs to be constantly evaluated, and adjustments need to be made on an ongoing basis. Also, as parents and caregivers, we need to be able to speak to our children at home about the “what if’s” and ensure we are communicating with the schools, so we can be consistent with what they are saying and teaching our students at home as well. 

Being prepared for these situations goes beyond the training of the administrators and school staff, and also needs to include Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) for our children, as well as our community.

If you are not familiar with SEL, it provides children and adults the tools necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.

As a parent and active member of the community, I believe that all the drills being conducted are imperative, but also SEL is just as important to ensure the well-being of our children and members of the community.

I am running for Sparta's Board of Education with Kim Bragg and Kurt Morris. Vote lines 3, 4, 5 on the ballot come November 5!