The recent school shooting at Douglas High School in Florida keeps at the forefront of our thoughts the need for safe schools coupled with more intentional work on issues related to mental health. Despite funding from the state of California, the needs of our students continue to increase in districts large and small, urban and rural, and everywhere in between.
At the February ACSA Leadership Assembly, attendees had an opportunity to listen to the advice of Corning USD Superintendent Rick Fitzpatrick, whose school district encountered an active shooter last November. Fast-thinking staff members empowered to act instead of obtain an administrator’s permission issued a lock-down and secured the campus in less than 50 seconds. His experience prompted leaders from around the state to revisit their practices.
But there is more to do. President-elect Holly Edds is initiating a Task Force to look at issues of safety and mental health, topics which continue to be at the top of the request lists coming from leaders. We’re hoping to kick that team off in early summer with a focus on issue analysis, resource gathering and a look at proposing new legislation. But it doesn’t stop there.
At the Every Child Counts Symposium more than 1,600 educators focused on the needs of students from special education to alternative education, model practices were shared by our members and legal partners. For example, Twin Rivers SD Assistant Superintendent Lori Grace highlighted tips to help stakeholders identify “high risk” students in a presentation on suicide prevention. Sandra Ayon, Greg Moffitt and Todd Cutler of the Winters Joint Union SD shared their integrated model of student support for academic, social and emotional support. In addition, keynote speaker Tim Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, inspired with his organization’s work that serves more than 5.6 million athletes from 172 countries and his founding of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning.
We have incredible practitioners in our ranks who are leading the change our students need in districts. From workshops on supporting gender non-confirming students to building legally compliant school-based health and wellness programs, the ECC Symposium has a vast array of programming for an ever-changing student population.
We’ve found a way to continue to share the best practices and practitioner expertise on a daily basis. In April, ACSA will roll out a new repository of resources by administrators for administrators, so that learning can go beyond conferences and workshops in a “ready when you need it” locale. I’m excited about the launch of this new repository and the opportunity to continue to highlight great practices and model programs from around the state and beyond.
ACSA membership isn’t just about networking and advocacy. It is also about mutual support and raising the bar for all of us, so we in turn do the same for our students.
– Lisa Gonzales