The issue of school safety was in the spotlight as school leaders from across the country gathered in Nashville.
On Friday, the former Superintendent of Newtown, Connecticut public schools was one of the featured speakers at the National Conference on Education. He shared lessons he learned from the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
“I think of the school leadership. I think of the faculty that is involved. I think of the students who witnessed it,” said Dr. Joseph Erardi, former Superintendent for the Newtown Public School District. “I don’t sleep at night when things like this happen.”
Dr. Erardi said every school district needed to have a safety plan in place that is reasonable and sustainable. He also said every door inside a school should be able to be locked from the inside. He also encouraged school leaders to investigate and to get to know their students, staff members, and community members, especially those who may be struggling.
“Safety is never complete,” said Dr. Erardi. “Work on it with your staff, with your community and school board. Be tenacious and make a difference.”
Dr. Erardi came to the Newtown school district in 2014 and helped the Sandy Hook community recover after a shooting that left 20 students and six educators dead. He oversaw the building of the new Sandy Hook Elementary School. He said he was most proud of how the district was able to move forward.
“A community that was so fragile has been rebuilt, and recovered,” said Dr. Erardi. “I believe [Sandy Hook] to be a model for other communities who have seen such a crime,”
Dr. Erardi has since retired. He is currently helping the School Superintendents Association (AASA) develop materials that school districts across the country can use in crisis solutions.
The National Conference on Education is hosted by the AASA. School system leaders and other public education advocates from across the country attended the conference at the Music City Center. This year’s event was themed “Education in the Digital Age.” Thousands were expected to attend the events and seminars throughout the three day conference.
The conference ends February 17. For more information visit: http://nce.aasa.org/