Good morning Parents/Guardians of our PS#3 Conwell Tigers,
This week’s tragic events that took place in Florida, taking the innocent lives of 17 people, has impacted all of us very deeply. From Columbine to Virginia Tech to Newtown to Parkland, the inexplicable is happening more and more often. Gun violence in schools is a scary and frightening reality that can not be taken lightly or ignored. It is extremely important that we be vigilant and observant in our goal of ensuring a safe and secure environment. We are extremely fortunate that similar events have not brushed our door step, however, we must maintain the approach that it could happen at anytime and for any reason. Once again, these acts of violence are very often inexplicable, however, the responsibility you have given the administration and staff at PS#3 to keep your children safe is at the forefront of what we do. Very often times, when a tragedy such as this occurs, there are multiple protocols that are revisited, resources reallocated, additional training provided, etc.
This event forces something completely different that includes all of the above. We must all work collaboratively to insure that our school provides every deterrance to prevent any such horror from occuring at our school. It takes every single one of us to do our part to continue to protect our children and staff. Safety and security sometimes may not be convenient. What we need to do in order to sustain the safety must not only start immediately but must continue indefinitely. Our sense of urgency must not ever be compromised. We must maintain a vigilance and determination to do the right thing to protect the students and staff at PS#3.
Parkland, Florida has hit me at my core. It has made me reflect as both a caretaker and a school leader. The changes that you will see, hear, and feel will be permanent and all participants will be held accountable to the same standard as equal partners in the process of making our school as safe as possible. I ask for your support in this process both as a concernced parent and a community partner.
We practice numerous drills with the children. The way in which you can help us at home is to encourage your children to take these drills very seriously. The fire drills, evacuation drills, the intruder drills, and the various lockdowns. Explain to your children that if they are in a place when a lockdown or drill is called, they are to remain in that place until an adult arrives. If they are in the hallway they should move immediately to the closest room. Most importantly they must listen to the adult in the room and take the drills seriously.
Secondly, when parents enter the building, respect our processes. Anytime you enter the building you must obtain label while checking in at the security desk and provide identification. Treat our staff with respect and understand that even though they may see you everyday, they are doing their jobs to protect your children. Don’t speak to teachers at dismissal about your child’s progress. The teachers are outside monitoring their children and when they take their focus off of the children, their safety is compromised.
Parents of our pre-K are only allowed to drop their children off at their assigned door and must do so before 8:45 am. Don’t try to make a security guard feel guilty because you don’t want to walk around the building because it is cold. The less number of entry ways into the building, the safer our entire school community is.
I will be personally monitoring students who arrive late each day. Children should be at school by 8:30 am. That’s our arrival time. Children enter through the cafeteria. Please understand that when you arrive with your children through the front door at 8:45 am or after, our resources are being spread thin because our staff is monitoring children that should already be in classrooms. This is also impacting instruction in the classroom. 8:30-8:45 is breakfast in classroom but it is also unpacking time. If your child arrives late to school, they are interrupting the class when they arrive and missing valuable time.
Dismissal procedures for Grades 3-5 will be changing in the near future. I will be providing information shortly about where and when that will be occuring.
Your children must be in uniform everyday. The “safety orange” color allows us to identify our children very quickly. The color was changed to orange for this purpose.
Picking up your child early from school should be avoided at all costs. Please make all medical appointments for after-school hours. There really should be very limited traffic of adults in the building unless they are there for a school event or a school-related purpose.
I would like to close by telling you that the single most important way to prevent an incident similar to Parkland from occurring at PS#3 is to eliminate any motivation for such a tragedy. As educators and adults, we must be very conscious the impact our words and actions have on the developing child. There are times where an act of a child requires a response of discipline as per the code of conduct. As part of the discipline process, the cycle should always end with a clean slate for the child and that they feel they can reenter the educational process without bias. We will end any and all student conflict(s) with an understanding that children will not be treated differently as a result. Please speak to your children. They should not be involved in any conflicts to begin with. Students should always tell a teacher first before resulting to any physical response to a stimulus. A child should never leave their experience at PS#3 with anything other than a love and loyalty to our institution. That is my belief and my mandate.
I wish you a wonderful rest of your weekend and should you have any questions or responses, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am committed to leading a school that you are proud of and that you can have faith in.
Darren Mischel, Principal