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Safe School Philosophy

Gateway's Safe Schools Plan was developed with the belief that we would be wise to be prepared for the range of possible situations that may occur in today's schools.  We hope that our preparedness with emergency procedures now allows us to focus on continuing to support an atmosphere which encourages and supports success for all students.

In order to create a climate that fosters learning and growth for the children of the Gateway Regional School District, we must be able to create a safe and supportive atmosphere in each of the school buildings.  The issue of assuring safety and security for everyone requires a community effort, with the support and the input of all school personnel, parents, students, and community members.

Effective communication is essential to our effort and is the basis of open and trusting relations with all of our children.  Successful schools have open and friendly atmosphere in which parents and community members feel comfortable interacting and actively supporting their children.  With this issue in mind, the schools of the Gateway District have established strong positive relationships with the members of the Hilltown communities. Each of our schools is supported by a School Improvement Council, which assists in making important decisions on the future of each school. Parents join members of the professional school staff and representatives of the towns the school serves on the Council.  Volunteer parent groups who sponsor various events and provide fund-raising campaigns that support field trips and sports events also support our schools.

Current research in cases of student violence indicates that the most successful prevention and intervention strategies rely on the proactive involvement of the entire community.  All levels of school personnel, students, families, and supportive community services are involved in the teaching and responding to all of our children.  Through the commitment to working closely together, we can learn to recognize the early warning signs that may indicate that a student is struggling and may be in need of intervention.

The warning signs are most often expressed behaviorally or in the form of a behavioral or attitude change.  While we can all be placed in the position to notice such a change in a child's presentation, it is the job of trained mental health professionals to interpret such signs.  It is essential that these signs be assessed while working with the "whole" child and his family.  In isolation, it is easy for these signs to be misinterpreted, which can result in misidentifying the real issue for the child.

It is also imperative that as adult observers, we understand that violence and aggressive behaviors must be interpreted in the context in which they are observed.  We must attempt to discover why the child is "acting out" in that particular setting, or if they present in the same manner in all settings.  Some people become aggressive when they reach their level of stress tolerance, while some react in this manner when frightened or overwhelmed.  In these cases, responding to just the aggressive act is not enough.  It is our job to teach acceptable coping skills to the child and to respond to his needs so that he can become more comfortable in the school environment.  We must keep in mind that both our response and the level of teaching socially appropriate interactions will and should vary, depending on the developmental level of the student involved.  It is important to view each child as an individual and to avoid stereotyping children.

No one of these early signs should be used to predict the tendency for aggression or violence in a particular student.  We should use these signs as indicators that a student may need to be referred to the appropriate professional staff, who will explore any areas of concern with the students.  These staff will contact parents and involve them in the process as soon as possible.  Follow-up referrals to community agencies will be made as is necessary to assist the student and family.

Safe and successful schools recognize the potential in their students to work through and overcome difficult problems.  They establish high expectations for their students' behaviors and support them in learning and maintaining socially acceptable and peaceful ways to communicate their needs.

Gateway Regional Schools are committed to creating safe and supportive environments for all our students and staff.  In that light, we have developed our Safe Schools Plan, which will be the basis for our response in the event of any episode that impacts the students or the school community.