Message from Chad Leith: May 26, 2022

Dear members of the Morse School community,

As a parent and a school principal, I have struggled to find words to convey the emotions I have felt at the news of another mass shooting. Both the racially-motivated murders at a Buffalo supermarket on May 14th and yesterday's attack on the Robb Elementary School in Texas have led me to reflect deeply on the safety of my own two children - Aléx and Isabella - as well as the safety of the 297 children and 98 staff members who walk through the doors of the Morse School on any given day. Yet even as I feel overwhelmed by the deliberate targeting of black shoppers in Buffalo and elementary school students and teachers in Uvalde, I am aware that as caregivers and educators we need to find a way to reassure our children that we are doing everything we can to keep them safe.

This morning, our School Counselor Fergie Wheeler shared helpful guidance with our staff members about how to support students, acknowledge feelings, and give space for questions that may come up in class. She also shared these tips for families and educators on how to talk to children about violence from the National Association of School Psychologists and this article from PBS on helping children with tragic events in the news. I share them here for parents and caregivers who may be looking for resources to support developmentally-appropriate conversations about these events at home.

Along with our district partners and the Cambridge Police Department, we will also continue to stay vigilant and to reinforce our school's safety protocols, which include restricting access to our school building. Additionally, between now and the end of the school year we will conduct another lockdown drill, in which children and teachers practice remaining inside their locked classrooms in response to the presence of an armed intruder. As with fire drills, lockdown drills are unannounced and brief. We take care to minimize anxiety and to explain to students that practicing together is an important way to stay safe.

Finally, as an educator who began my career as a high school teacher, it is not lost on me that the shooters in both Buffalo and Uvalde were only 18 years old - the same age as my son. To me, this speaks to the importance of the work we must do as parents, caregivers, and educators to raise our children to understand and respect differences, to be caring and empathetic towards others, and to have the awareness and tools they need to navigate the increasingly complex world that awaits them in adulthood. During a time of increasing disconnectedness, we must also embrace our sense of community and make sure that every Morse School student feels safe, seen, heard, and loved.

Sincerely,

Chad
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