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Greetings CMS Families,
I hope that you are doing your best to stay festive during this holiday season. It is challenging to think of anything else except for the horrible tragedy that occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. Our hearts break for the entire Newtown community. As a parent, I want to know that when I send my children to school that they will be safe and free from any physical or emotional harm.
As you can imagine, I have received many inquiries from concerned parents about the CMS Safety Plan and frankly I do not blame you. When incidents like this occur, we immediately need reassurance that “it won’t happen to us.” When I learned of this tragic event, I alerted my staff, sent an email to families promising you that we would do whatever we could to keep your children safe. I spent countless hours this weekend reviewing our emergency plan, walking through each of our buildings and assessing where we could tighten security. We ordered new locks on all doors and will have custom-made shades to fit the beautiful open windows throughout our buildings during the break.
I also spoke with school leaders, policemen and women, psychologists, religious leaders and parents like you and me. I met the Leadership Team on Sunday and reviewed the safety plan with them so that we could review it with the rest of the staff on Monday. I read every article I could get my hands on to help the CMS community cope with something so devastating. Yesterday the staff practiced a “Lock Down.” We made new signage reminding everyone to keep all doors locked and changed our procedures for dismissal and arrival, Early Care and After Care. We will keep all doors locked until an Administrator or Teacher lets you in. These are just a few of the plans of action taken since Friday.
I wish that I could guarantee you that our Safety Plan is 100% effective but I cannot. The Principal and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary did everything humanly possible to ensure that their students were safe. What I can do however is to share something that one of my former teachers wrote that expresses our emotions at CMS.
“To parents who aren’t educators, this may be hard to understand. Five days a week, we teach your kids. Joke with your kids. Console your kids. Praise your kids. Question your kids. Beat our heads up against a wall about your kids. We gush over your kids. We laugh with your kids. We worry about your kids. We keep an eye on your kids. We learn about your kids. We invest in your kids. We protect your kids. We love your kids. We would all take a bullet for your kids. It is nowhere in our job description. It isn’t covered in the Employee Handbook. It isn’t in the Safety Plan. It isn’t cited on our contracts. But we would all do it. So, yes—please hug your kids tonight—really, really tight. But when you see your kids’ teacher, hug them too.”
We love your children and we too are hurting. We as educators choose to go into this profession not because we want to acquire financial wealth but because we are fully committed to working with children whose lives are far more precious than silver or gold. Our time with them is priceless. We spend a significant amount of time with each other and our students. In many respects, they become our children. We feel responsible for them and want to do everything we can to protect them. Our hearts are broken thinking about the experience that our fellow colleagues endured. Firefighters, policemen and women have a unique bond called the “brotherhood” (includes women) and we also have that same camaraderie. It’s called “family.” Today we extend our hearts and prayers to our Sandy Hook Elementary Family.
I can assure you that our Safety Plan is “family proof.” We have considered every scenario possible and will continue to do so with further training and drills. It saddens me that our children live in fear because of senseless acts of violence. We want to work closely with you to provide them with a stress free learning environment that is joyful, lively and safe. We wish you and your family a very happy and safe holiday season. Nothing will make us happier than to see your children’s beautiful faces when they return from break!
Dr. Ingrid Tucker
Head of School