Giving Compass' Take:
- Principals share collective experiences and best practices for schools in post-shooting recovery but warn that strong community and government partnerships must happen to protect schools.
- What partnerships are critical for school recovery and how can donors help facilitate these partnerships?
- Learn how mass shootings leave behind collective trauma.
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As principals, we are members of a club we wish no school officials had to join.
Our collective experiences include tragic gun violence at Columbine High School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Sandy Hook Elementary and other schools in the past 25 years.
We are founding members of the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ Principal Recovery Network, a group of present and former school leaders who have been through school active-shooter incidents or have led a school community in the immediate aftermath of one of these tragic events.
And while we celebrated the recent passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in Congress, a bill that will undoubtedly help prevent violence and provide schools with much-needed resources, the unfortunate reality is that many schools will suffer shootings in the coming years.
Until the nation reaches a time when full, comprehensive action is taken to end all gun violence in our schools and communities, we have decided to share our collective wisdom with our peers in a “Guide to Recovery” to help them deal with the tragic violence that far too many will be forced to face. Our free guide can be accessed on the website of the Principal Recovery Network.
The guide is a collection of personal best practices and practical advice organized into five areas. It’s also a concise, pragmatic resource that will aid school administrators as they come to grips with a school and community forever changed.
Most importantly, our guide offers advice on how to listen to stakeholders without judgment in the days after a shooting, and it comes with the full support of its 20 authors, who painstakingly delved into the nuances of school active-shooter incidents and their impacts and distilled the lessons learned.
What our guide does not do is provide all the resources to implement these best practices. Without key support beyond the school building, many of our recommendations will be impossible to fulfill. And our advice will not work without strong partnerships with local and federal governments.
For example, as school leaders, we cannot fully address the grieving and healing process of all families, students, teachers and staff on our own. Whether or not the event caused fatalities or injuries, the mental and emotional well-being of every member of the school community has been damaged; they all require tools and resources to support the healing process.
Read the full article about gun violence in schools by Elizabeth Brown and Greg Johnson at The Hechinger Report.