Superintendent of Schools
89 Midland Drive, Norwich, NY 13815
P: (607) 334-1600 ext. 5504
Good Afternoon to our Norwich families,
It’s unfortunate that I am bringing this message to you today in the wake of yet another tragedy in a public school. There have been 27 school shootings in 2022 alone.
That is a frightening statistic as a parent and as an educator. Similar for you I am certain, these types of events create fear in every school in America and I personally lose sleep thinking, “are we doing enough in this area, are we controlling the things that are within our control”…
I wanted to take the opportunity to explain the things we have been doing in the areas of safety and security for the last 2 years and moving forward.
We have invested 1.8 million dollars of state money commonly referred to as Smart Schools Bond Act. This was used to improve an infrastructure that supports high tech security measures, such as surveillance systems, keyless entry on both interior and exterior doors in the district and a SMART wiring configuration that creates an added level of accountability with respect to facilities access. Each building has a system that scans one’s driver’s license that performs background checks for the individual for school visitation and we are now equipped with web-based lockdown initiation software and hardware for use by our incident command team. The budget that you just passed included another $335,000 expenditure to fund the remaining technological upgrades associated with this project.
Most recently, we have signed an agreement with the City of Norwich and have secured a School Resource Officer. The SRO will begin to focus efforts on proactively engaging with our PK-12 school community. Additionally, we just onboarded a School Safety Officer that comes to us with 23 years’ experience as a retired State Trooper and investigator for Homeland Security. His network and working knowledge will prove to be an asset each day and certainly in the event of emergency response.
Lastly, our proactive work to continue to educate and focus on the mental health of our staff and student population will be supported by a violence prevention grant from the Department of Justice. The proposed project will address a number of risk factors for violence in the schools. These include violence in the community, low levels of social emotional skills, an insufficient number of providers of mental health services, and a high rate of disciplinary referrals.
The project will consist of multiple components:
- Implementation of a social emotional learning (SEL) curriculum for every student in grades PreK-12, we have already implemented this Pk-5.
- Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools training for another 60 staff members in order to build the skills to deescalate crises and help children learn constructive ways to handle crises as well as coping strategies to deal with frustration, failure, anger, rejection, hurt, and depression.
- Investigating a Classroom Connect anonymous reporting system for students, staff, parents, and community members to be able to report threats of violence, including bullying.
- Continue to fund a Behavioral Clinician, through a contract with Chenango County Behavioral Health Services, who will provide mental health services for students in grades PreK-5.
Social Worker, Dr. Kelly Collins-Colosi reporting on advice to our families.
As a parent and a mental health provider we worry about our children every day. When tragedy happens, I go back to the statement of Mr. Fred Rogers – he said
“I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Please know here at the NCSD we are the helpers, we have social workers, counselors, school psychologists and at-risk coordinators all available to help and support you and your students.
At home caregivers and family members can help by creating a safe and supportive environment, remaining as calm as possible, and reducing stressors. Children and adolescents need to know that their family members love them and will do their best to take care of them.
Helpful hints when with a student processing tragedy:
- Ensure children and adolescents are safe and that their basic needs are addressed.
- Allow them to be sad, frustrated or angry.
- Let them talk, write, or draw pictures about the event and their feelings.
- Answer their questions and let them know that you are available to talk whenever they want to.
- Limit their exposure to repetitive news reports about traumatic events. Really work to limit their repetitive exposure to the news and social media outlets that replay over and over information about the tragedy.
- Try to stick to routines, such as reading bedtime stories, eating dinner together, and playing games.
- Help them feel in control by letting them make some decisions for themselves.
- Pay attention to sudden changes in behaviors, speech, language use, or strong emotions.
- Contact a health care provider if new problems develop, particularly if any of the following symptoms occur for more than a few weeks:
- Having flashbacks (reliving the event)
- Having a racing heart and sweating
- Being easily startled
- Being emotionally numb
- Being very sad or depressed
- Expect children and adolescents to be brave or tough.
- Make them discuss the event before they are ready.
- Get angry if they show strong emotions.
- Make promises you can’t keep (such as “You will be OK tomorrow”)
Attached, you will find some documents that may support conversation with a child or offer support to you, personally.
We are here for you and will support all of our staff, students and families, please reach out with questions, concerns or worries.