The first nine months as principal at Plainfield Elementary School have been rewarding. I appreciate the opportunity to be part of Plainfield's welcoming and supportive community.
Prior to working at PES, I served as an Assistant Principal at Weare Middle and CenterWoods Upper Elementary School. Before that, I facilitated the learning of Reading, Language Arts, and Social Studies in the Kearsarge community. As an adjunct instructor at Antioch University New England and certification in special education, I am a strong advocate for inclusion and personalized learning for all.
Plainfield Elementary School Vision Statement
PES is a community school that is committed to student growth and achievement through a rigorous education that reflects the New England values of sustainability, integrity, ingenuity, collaborative spirit and stewardship of the natural environment.
Dear Plainfield Families,
In the days of yesteryear, many children heard the phrase, “Children should be seen, but not heard.” When I researched the phrase, I found some form of it dates back circa 1450. A couple of weeks ago, our newsletter included a picture of our 7th and 8th-grade students. They used silence to express their voice about school violence. In English Language Arts class, the students also used their writing voices. Here are the questions Ms. Parker asked the students to consider:
- What is it like for you to be a teenager at a time when lockdown drills are common, and school violence is in the news frequently?
- What did you think about during the 17 minutes?
- Was this a challenging experience for you?
- If you could share one piece of advice with a leader today (school leader, local politician, national politician) about how to create lasting change, what would it be? To whom would you direct it?
One of the 7th-grade writers, Duncan Green, permitted me to share his entire piece with the PES community. Other writers provided permission to use anonymous quotes. Please read through the voices from the next generation.
"As I am on the ground, I count my friend around me, some of them closer friends than others, some who I rarely talk to, but all of them silent. I counted about 35 kids with me and five or six adults. But every time I counted, I realized more and more that we are just kids, and so were the Parkland victims. Seventeen normal people who went to school and work every day. Just like us. Yet, all of their hopes and dream of adulthood and growing old and spending time with friends and going to college - were lost. Whenever I close my eye, I felt like these innocent, hopeful kids were me. I felt it is my job to listen to them and join them in saying, “Never again.” Seventeen young members of America’s future were lost because our country allows mentally ill people to have assault weapons. Since our country cannot agree, innocent young children are paying the price. As a teenager of America, I hope that all of this will be over soon, and, truly, that the Parkland shooting will be the spark that will truly end gun violence, and that it will be Never. Again."
“The football coach stood in front of some high schoolers, hopefully saving their lives."
“I kept trying to figure out how to fix it, but I had no idea.
“During the seventeen minutes, I was thinking about how it must have felt for the parents and family members to hear that news.”
“I thought about how the school was just like any school.”
“I think that we should use this event as a reminder to not take what we have for granted.”
“I would tell Marco Rubio to put some restrictions on guns without totally taking away people’s rights to bear arms.”
“As a teenageer, I was scared to go to school the day after the shooting.
“During the seventeen minutes, I prayed, prayed for those whose lives were taken and their loved ones as well as everyone affected.”
“I...I thought about the seventeen different lives lost. These aren’t just names on a list.”
“I have much more to say, but these thoughts don’t translate into words quite well or quite as powerful as I would like.”
“I know one of the kids was going to a basketball game...He was so excited to go this game, but during the shooting, he died.”
“I wish he didn’t do what he did…”
“I thought that the people who were killed did not deserve to die.”
“...it is scary and frightening.”
“...those 17 minutes, I spent noticing how lucky and thankful I should be that I take fully for granted.”
While less than one percent of violent deaths are school associated, I hear their concerns. Our goal is to maintain a safe and caring school with positive behavior interventions, supports, and crisis planning and preparedness. This year we have been reviewing our school safety procedures and crisis prevention efforts to ensure that emerging school safety issues are adequately covered in our Emergency Operation Plan. This review includes local community responders and other partners reviewing our plan, procedures, and communication systems. We are also scheduling additional crisis training and professional development for staff. This summer we will be adding external cameras to our facility, and we recently purchased items to improve teacher response time to secure their classrooms. We will strive to keep your children and our staff safe.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, I encourage you to talk to your children and consider turning off the news. I also encourage you to use your voice and reach out to your local, regional, state, and national officials.
~ Student Voice Impacting Change ~