For a number of years, the district has explicitly implemented a comprehensive and interconnected set of programs and high impact strategies in support of the safety and well being of all members of the school community.
Our adoption of the Community of Caring program continues to focus efforts on character development through a focus on the key values of Caring, Respect, Responsibility, Trust, and Family.
This year the district is further deepening its focus on social and emotional learning, by adopting the Yale University, Center for Emotional Intelligence’s RULER Program, through which students will learn to Recognize, Understand, Label, Express, and Regulate their emotions.
Our strong relationship with the Dracut Police Department, through our School Resource Officer program and our ongoing collaboration, along with the enhancements to the physical security of our schools, are tangible examples of our commitment to the safety of the school community.
Our partnership with Sandy Hook Promise, a national non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 may be seen as a component that bridges our efforts to teach students the skills needed to become vibrant, caring, and emotionally literate individuals with the terribly real need to keep everyone in our community safe.
That partnership has included participation in school-wide activities like Start With Hello, threat assessment training for employees to assist in identifying unsafe situations, and training for middle and high school students in the Say Something program, which teaches students to tell adults when they may have seen or heard something that is potentially dangerous.
Today, I am happy to announce the launch of the “Say Something Anonymous Reporting System” (SS-ARS) for members of Richardson Middle School and Dracut High School communities. This program teaches students, teachers, and administrators how to recognize warning signs and signals, especially within social media, of individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others and Say Something to a trusted adult OR use its anonymous reporting system. Specifically, the program educates participants to:
- Recognize the signs and signals of at-risk behaviors – especially within social media
- Take every sign and signal seriously; act quickly to get help by talking to a trusted adult OR
- Report it anonymously through SS-ARS 24/7 Crisis Center, mobile app, or website
- Respond to and manage a submitted, non-life threatening tip via administrator teams at the school level
- Respond to and manage a submitted, life-threatening tip via a multi-disciplinary team of administrators and public safety officials
- Sustain the curriculum and awareness via student clubs, in-school activities and call-to-action weeks
Our students often are aware of the problems their peers are facing, so we must empower them to know the danger signs and give them the tools to help each other with the assistance of trained and caring adults. With most conversations between adolescents taking place on social media, it is critical that we teach our students to be looking out for one another. SS-ARS teaches them what to look for in text, video and photos while empowering them to act quickly to help a fellow student.
This system leverages the power, talent, and expertise of a professionally staffed 24/7 crisis center, members of the Dracut Police when a life-threatening tip is provided, and administrators and professionally trained staff of the Dracut Public Schools. As one of the first school districts in Massachusetts to adopt the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System, the Dracut Public Schools thanks the Dracut Police Department and Sandy Hook Promise for their ongoing support.
The SS-ARS program is being provided through Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), a nation-wide non-profit organization. SHP’s programs are in 50 states – with 7,000+ schools and over 3.5 million students and adults trained. They have a track record, reputation, and knowledge of how to work effectively with students, parents, and teachers to improve school safety and culture. The program is age-appropriate and research-based. They also have funding to provide and sustain the program at no cost to the district.
A detailed parent guide may be found here: Say Something Anonymous Reporting System Parent Guide. If you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to call or email me directly.