A School Safety Message from Superintendent Look
A School Safety Message from Superintendent Look
Posted on 02/16/2018
16 February 2018

Dear Danville Schools family:

“How do I know my child is safe?”  That is the question burning in the stomach of every caregiver right now.  It burns a little hotter knowing there is no answer that fully will assuage the fear. 

For all of us – caregivers, school, and district staff alike – any degree of uncertainty is too much when answering the “How do I know my child is safe” question.  A caregiver wants the iron-clad guarantee that nothing bad can ever happen in my district, at my school, and especially to my child.  As the Danville Schools superintendent, I want nothing more than to make that promise.  As a parent of a Danville Schools student, I want nothing more than to hear that promise.  In both instances, I know neither are possible.  Here is what I can promise:

  1. The Danville Schools regularly reviews and updates protocols and procedures.Safety is not an endpoint but rather a process of continuous improvement.
  2. The Danville Schools will continue to staff our schools with caring adults who seek to make meaningful relationships with even the most reluctant of students.
  3. The Danville Schools accepts its role in addressing the ills of students brought forth by factors experienced outside of our school walls.A safe and healthy learning environment demands it.

In previous districts, I have established order in schools.  In some, that included metal detectors and a strong security presence.  In others, there were detailed systems of monitoring protocols and managerial procedures.  It took much more than these measures to achieve the safe, supportive, and healthy learning environment we want for our students.

So what moves schools from beyond orderly to safe?  Relationships. 

Some will say relationships are neither Kevlar nor an electrified fence.  They are right.  So in the Danville Schools we build vestibules, arrange for lines of sight onto secured entrances and exits, establish monitoring schedules of common areas, apply technological solutions to increase the range of eyes and ears, practice for worst case scenarios, and revisit all of these systems with great consistency.

But the relationships that exist between students and the staff is the most powerful force in forming a protective (though not impenetrable) shield around a school.  Through relationships, staff and students work together to communicate and inform each other when students do not seem like themselves or if a social media post or picture creates uneasiness. 

Strategically and authentically, relationships replace animosity towards a school.  Strategically and authentically, school staff make a concerted effort for every student – EVERY student – to have at least one meaningful relationship with a staff member that matters.  Sometimes it is the teacher.  Other times it is the coach, clerk, custodian, or counselor. 

As the human spirit grows in a building, the outreach of positive intervention extends.  We care about each other.  And when we feel cared for, our sense of community extends a little further towards people we may not know as well.  If I know you have a tight grip on my left hand, I will reach even further to others with my right. 

The tragedies of Marshall County, Parkland, and too many preceding events show we are in a new reality of school safety.  Let us join together and further become the community that includes all of us and represents the best of us.  Now, more than ever,

We lift as we climb,

Keith Look, Ed.D.