When Mr. Fred Rogers was a boy and saw scary things in the news, he said that his mother would tell him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
All these years later, I find myself working in a school community that is full of the helpers that his mother told him to look for. The school shooting in Parkland, Florida has brought a multitude of concerns to the surface for parents/guardians, teachers & administrators. We are all asking ourselves if we are doing enough, if we should be doing more, if… if… if….
What we cannot fail to do is be the ‘helper’ that the students need right now. This does not mean being their voice, rather it means we need to listen deeply and to amplify their voice. To that end, with my support, the Beaver Area High School administration met with student government leaders to listen to and respect their concerns about school safety and learn about the authentic message about school safety that they want to share on March 14th and/or April 20th. The students demonstrated thoughtfulness in their suggestions, including the need to give those who desire to “opt-out” a safe space. The students also respectfully considered the administration’s concerns about safety if a large number of students were to ‘walk-out’ of the school on a widely publicized date.
At Beaver Area School District, we believe that student voices matter. We recognize that these young leaders represent the future and the promise of change. And we are pleased that the students are willing to co-create a meaningful opportunity to grieve the loss of innocence and to express their concerns about school safety. As the Superintendent of Schools, I intend to meet with the student leaders next week to further consider their concerns.