February 20, 2018
Dear Students, Staff, Families, and Friends of GUSD,
It has been a while since I have written a letter to post on the website or to distribute to staff, students, or parents. I try to keep a fairly current communication on our district website, at least a new one every month. Often times the season or the time of year will dictate the topic of my letter. At other times events in the news will motivate me to write something that I think is important for all of us to consider. This is one of those letters. The events that took place just last week in Florida have caused us all to take a pause and think about what implications that terrible event might have for us and all Americans.
We at GUSD have been fortunate to date to not have had an event of terrible violence like was experienced last week in Parkland. Our administrators and staff regularly practice emergency preparedness drills with our students with the goal of being prepared if something unimaginable were to occur. While we at GUSD will continue to do our best to prepare for any eventuality, there are no guarantees that we won’t have to put those rehearsals into practice.
Even though we can’t guarantee that a violent event will never occur in our schools, we can tell you that, from a statistical standpoint, schools are still among the very safest places for students to be. We want to work with you to keep GUSD as safe as possible. We will continue to review our safety and emergency plans to improve them whenever possible. In addition we are regularly looking for resources to share with our families to help them deal with these national tragedies when they occur. With that in mind I just wanted to share some ideas from our Employee Assistance provider Jorgensen and Brooks about how to help your children deal with traumatic events. Following are just a few ideas that you can use to help your children when something like the Florida school shooting takes place:
· Talk with your kids about the trauma. Accept their feelings and tell them it’s ok to feel sad, upset, or stressed about the situation.
· With older elementary and teen age students ask them what they know about the event. Make sure they are getting the correct information. Help them get answers to their questions.
· Model positive mental health and healthy living so that all of us are ready to respond to our highest level of operation if and when we are involved in a traumatic event.
· Give lots of hugs and reassurances to preschool and early elementary school students. Let students of all ages know how much they are loved without making them feel uncomfortable.
· In general, exercise common sense and stability as the caregiver to children and young people. Acknowledge the trauma, but work with them to point out the positives in their lives.
While no one act or strategy is fool-proof and works for every child, events such as the recent Florida school-shooting point out to us how important it is to be involved in our children’s lives. I believe that working together we can make a difference in the lives of our GUSD students. The whole purpose of our school system is all about doing just that, if we can live up to our vision of “Capturing Hearts, Empowering Minds” for each of our students we will move a long way toward creating the type of environment in our schools that will keep a tragedy from taking place. We want to work with you to make sure that is what we are striving for. Thank you for supporting GUSD and more importantly our students!
Jerry Jennex, Superintendent