Supporting Our Children

Dear Families,

I cannot find words to express the shock and sadness I feel in response to the events in Newtown, Connecticut.   It is simply unfathomable to me that someone could do this to young children.

As we think about Monday morning and children returning to school following this news, I would like to let you know how we plan to respond.  Attached is a handout from the National Association of School Psychologist that you may find helpful in talking with your children.

Staff Meeting:  We will meet as a staff before school to review recommendations for talking with children, to answer questions, and to be sure everyone feels prepared (as much as anyone can be) for how to address the news with students.

Class Discussions:  Discussions will vary by grade level as is shown below.  Please know that we may vary these plans according to the needs of particular children or classes.

Grades K-2:  We will not have a whole class discussion about the news.  Rather, teachers will respond to individual students or small groups if they bring up the news.

Grades 3-5: Teachers will discuss the news in class meetings – at a time that feels natural in the daily schedule – or first thing if teachers determine that students come in talking about the news right away.  Following recommendations from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), discussions will be kept simple and factual.   We will reassure students about what we do to keep our school safe.   It can be helpful to offer kids a chance to take action of some sort.   That might involve making cards for the school.  Or we may wait until there is more information about opportunities to support members of the Sandy Hook Elementary School community.

Grades 6-8:  Teachers will discuss the news with students during Advisory on Monday morning, following recommendations from NASP for middle school students.

Counseling Support

Guidance counselor Holly Zito and Shaina Martinez and School Psychologist Robin Toback will be available throughout the day to support students who may exhibit particular distress.   If you feel your child is particularly struggling with the news, please let your child’s classroom (K-5) or advisory teacher (6-8) know. You may also contact one of the guidance counselors.

Review of Security Procedures

All principals will be working with the district administration to review security procedures. Our school held its annual Evacuation and Lockdown Drills in October.

I recently had the opportunity to be a guest reader in a classroom. I selected the book “The Three Questions” by Jon J. Muth (based on the short story by Leo Tolstoy).  In the book, a young boy searches for the answer to three questions:  When is the best time to do things; who is the most important one; and what is the right thing to do?  After going on a journey to find the answers and responding to problems he encounters on the way, he learns:  “Remember there is only one important time, and that is now. The most important one is always the one you are with. And the most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.”   

May we all take this opportunity to support and love those closest to us. And may we keep the children, staff and families of Sandy Hook Elementary School in our thoughts and prayers.

Rick Rogers