West Virginia education leaders get national perspective on school safety
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - On Thursday, education leaders and law enforcement gathered for the first-ever West Virginia school safety conference held by Mountain State Education Services Cooperative.
Keynote speakers took the stage, including:
- Frank DeAngelis, who was the principal during the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
- Molly Hudgens, who spent 90 minutes talking a student out of a school shooting.
- John Newman, who is the Chief of Security and Emergency Management of Hillsborough School District -- which has 303 schools.
- Rob Cunningham, who is the Deputy Secretary of West Virginia Homeland Security.
It’s no question how different safety drills are nowadays compared to years ago.
An occasional fire drill has escalated to active shooter drills-- training students and teachers on what to do, where to go, and how to ultimately keep safe.
Former Columbine High School Principal Mr. DeAngelis says while it’s so important to talk about these scenarios and what to do in an active shooter situation, it’s not to frighten people; it’s to help prepare.
“It’s not to scare … it’s how you share your story, because in our society it doesn’t matter if it’s in schools, churches, the airport -- we need to have a plan in place. Because, if not, I think we’re doing a disservice to our kids,” DeAngelis said.
While school districts heighten security and tighten safety plans, we also heard from speakers about how meaningful relationships can make a difference-- making sure teachers ensure students feel heard and understood.
“If a child does not feel safe, if a child is hungry, they’re not going to learn. You could have the best curriculum out there. It’s about relationships, it’s about feelings and that’s what’s so important,” DeAngelis said.
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