Let's Talk about School Safety
Dr. Brian Ricca is the Montpelier Public Schools Superintendent. He has been a teacher and administrator for eighteen years in Vermont, Chicago, Boston, and New York. Dr. Ricca earned degrees from the College of the Holy Cross, Fordham University, and Loyola University Chicago and prides himself on being a lifelong learner. He is proud to serve on the Vermont School Crisis Planning Team and to work with the first responders in Montpelier, as well as statewide, to thoughtfully prepare schools to be appropriately safe to educate children in the 21st Century.
Sadly, in the post-Columbine world of education, everyone is, in effect, an unprotected being. I don’t recommend wallowing in this fear as there are many things that we can do to be proactive and plan for a worst case scenario. Given the many claims to what is true and good in 2014, being prepared is the healthiest way to approach our work in education.
In my short time as Superintendent in Montpelier Public Schools, I have experienced two too many moments of feeling “unprotected.” Twice in my first two years, we had substantial interruptions to the daily lives of the students, faculty, and staff of Montpelier High School. Both times, calls to the high school specifically threatened to bring harm to the people in the building. I was relieved when our first responders determined that both of the events were hoaxes and as it turned out, possibly perpetrated by the same individual(s).
These incidents prompted me to look for opportunities to be involved at a greater level in school safety in Vermont. I was proud when I was invited to join the Vermont School Crisis Planning Team. One of the key elements we are convinced makes a difference is maintaining positive working relationships with all the first responders, regardless of where your school is located. Ask them to review your protocols, work with your leadership team, and visit your school. Invite them to participate with school personnel during drills and expect to learn from their observations and/or feedback.
So whether in Barton or Brattleboro, Randolph or Rutland, Fairfax or Fair Haven, get to know the people who will arrive at your building when you dial 911 and state your emergency.
It is terrible to be an unprotected being. But you don’t have to be unprotected and alone.
Page Last Updated on July 8, 2014