I had a very different column planned for today, but it just did not feel right to share fond memories about my family, when 17 families in Parkland, Florida are grieving for loved ones taken too soon. Seventeen lights extinguished by a broken human who did not receive the help he so obviously needed. I cannot understand his actions, but I also cannot understand our inability to safeguard our country’s future leaders.
Each of us who work, live and breathe in schools is stunned, again, this week. We are wondering how the warning signs of this teenager were overlooked. But, most importantly, we are just trying to make sure our security plans are up to date. How sad. Schools are sacred spaces. Learning communities of vibrant, engaged young people poised on the brink of leadership and leading lives of purpose. Instead of learning, we are drilling “Run, Hide, Fight” scenarios and locking all doors so we feel like we are imprisoned all day. We look suspiciously at every campus visitor who is unknown to us. It is no way to learn and grow.
This past year Kent School embarked upon a three-year professional relationship with the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac to immerse ourselves in mind, brain and education science. We are the only PK-Grade 8 school in Maryland doing this work with 100% of our faculty. We know from our research that emotion is inseparable from learning. Philosopher Juddi Krishnamurti wrote: Fear prevents the flowering of the mind. Thus, students concerned for their own safety, cannot learn, and teachers concerned for their safety, cannot teach.
I am glad that many students from Stoneman Douglas High School and other schools across the country are standing up. I applaud these brave students for using their voices for good. We must listen. Our lawmakers must listen. The new generation is calling and they will not be silenced.
Please consider mailing a letter this weekend to Stoneman Douglas High School. A teacher there is trying to have letters of support sent from students around the world. School opens there on Monday. Imagine how powerful it would be to see bags and bags of support letters. We have sent letters from Kent School. These letters will be a reminder that there are kind people in the world who care about the student and adult community of Stoneman Douglas High School, as we care about all students in all schools across this great country.
Please send your letter to the following:
Stoneman Douglas High School
5901 Pine Island Road
Parkland, Florida 33076
Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.