Monthly Archives: December 2012

Healing

I hope that you have all been able to find some joy over the break.  Hope and determination will light the way to our bright and noble future – a future that you must envision and take small steps toward each day.  I have made a commitment that our students and staff will be recognized for our recovery and not for the tragedy.  Together, we can do this.

We will open school at the regular time on Wednesday, January 2, 2013 (it will be an F-Day).  There will be continued professional counseling support from our staff and clinicians from the State of Connecticut.  Students seeking counseling support should access resources through the School Counseling Office.  Counselors will continue to monitor common areas to provide additional support.  We will be working hard to ensure an appropriate and smooth transition from state and national support to local support.  There will also be additional law enforcement support and we will continue to restrict media access to the campus.

As we move forward from this tragedy, we will find that people are in very different places in the grieving process.  Perhaps not knowing where people are in the process, what they will say, or how they will react to what is said is a considerable source of anxiety for you.  I am sure that it is for many people.  We are committed to creating an environment that best supports an accelerated healing process and allows students and staff to take the next steps toward a healthy future.  The truth is, though, that we are not exactly sure what that process looks like.  We are only certain that it will require tolerance, kindness, respect, compassion, and the initial assumption of positive intentions. We all must be considerate and supportive of the differences in how people grieve.

Focusing on growth, connection, and responsibility to others is a positive, healthy way to deal with tragedy.  You can support long term personal and organizational health by incorporating recognition of good qualities and individual strengths into conversations with friends, colleagues, and loved ones.

Our collective strength and resilience will serve as an example to the rest of the world.

The Break

If this week is any indication of the change that our students are going to make in the world, we do indeed have a bright and noble future.  I realize that this is just the beginning of our healing and that there will be good days and bad days ahead, but our students continue to amaze me with their compassion, energy, hope, and determination.

This break is a good thing.  We will send out more information on activities and supports that will be available during the week.  If you have any questions or concerns (or just need to share), you can always contact me [email: dumaisc@newtown.k12.ct.us, twitter: @charlesdumais].  I, too, am going to try to take a break, but I will be close by.

Please reach out to somebody this week.  Take the opportunity to make a new friend.  Check on your neighbor.  Call a colleague.  Do something that makes you feel good about yourself.  Do something that makes somebody else feel good about themself. By focusing on the strengths that you see in yourself and in others, you will find that there is a healthy way to deal with tragedy that involves growth, connection, and responsibility to others.

I may take a day or two off from writing.  That does not mean I will not be thinking about you.  I most certainly will.  Why don’t you write to me?  Describe your vision of a bright and noble future.  I would love to read it (and it might help you to write it).

Our collective strength and resilience will serve as an example to the rest of the world. Be strong, Newtown.

Highly Resolve

We are taking school (and life) one day at a time.  As much as I would like to be able to say that each day will get easier, that is certainly not the case.  What we have witnessed is incomprehensible and the only certainty in our recovery is that we will do it together.

While we were all tired yesterday, we are exhausted today. Some came to school hoping that we would be able to just process our feelings while others came to school hoping for structure (and perhaps distraction).  Every teacher in every classroom tried hard to figure out what would be best for the students with them.

Tomorrow will be a shortened E-day (early dismissal; we will have no bells).  We will observe a moment of silence at 9:30.

Counseling staff will continue to be available for students, staff, and parents throughout the day.  Support centers have been set up in the side gym (students), F-wing offices (teachers), and B141 (parents).  Counselors will also be monitoring classrooms and common areas to provide additional support.

Uniformed police officers will continue to patrol the interior of the building and a police cruiser will monitor traffic entering the campus.  Media will not be allowed on campus.

Our students are AMAZING. Our faculty is AMAZING. Our staff is AMAZING.  The support that each has shown for the other brings me to tears as much as the pain of this horrific event.  To everybody who has reached out to help us in this time of need, we thank you.

Yesterday, I spoke of envisioning the future.  If you have not done so already, please take a moment now to think about what you wish the future to look like.  We had no control over this senseless, cruel, horrific act, but we do have absolute control over our response to it.  We must have the courage to envision a future that is noble and bright.

Isolation is the enemy.  Isolation is the engine of all of the destructive consequences of the pain that we are feeling.  Isolation feeds fear and anger.  But you can fight isolation.  The response that is healthy and helpful is to weave some recognition of a good quality into every conversation with friends, colleagues, and loved ones.  It helps to create a sense of safety and value that supports long-term personal and organizational health.  Through this sharing you will see the AMAZING that I see among us.

In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln closed with “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom . . .”  To begin to make the future that you envision closer to a reality, we all need to “highly resolve” to do something so that the children and adults of Sandy Hook Elementary did not die in vain. I will be resolving to perform three acts of kindness over the holiday break on their behalf.  I ask you to do the same (you should write them down now).

I am sure that one of the thoughts that crossed your mind this week was “Will people always associate me with this horrific event when they find out I am from (or work in) Newtown?”  We can choose a future now that will bring us recognition as a community that took a terrible tragedy and turned it into a movement for a better world.

Our collective strength and resilience will serve as an example to the rest of the world. Be strong, Newtown.

Envision The Future

I know that you are tired. I know that you are emotionally drained and don’t know if you have the energy to go on. I know that you are afraid of how you feel, how you don’t feel, how you might feel, and how others feel. We all do (including me), each in a unique way that, unfortunately, is hard to predict or anticipate. Each day will test us.

Envision the future that you wish to live in and take a small step each day to get there. We will help each other get there. On our way there, we need to look out for each other. Staff needs to look out for students. Students need to look out for students. Staff needs to look out for staff. Students need to look out for staff. (Thank you all for looking out for me!) Together we can do this.

Wear your Newtown gear tomorrow (a D-day)! I will be wearing mine.

Counseling staff will continue to be available for students, staff, and parents throughout the day. Support centers have been set up in the side gym (students), F-wing offices (teachers), and B141 (parents). Counselors will also be monitoring classrooms and common areas to provide additional support. (We love the counselors but I know you really want the dogs.)

Uniformed police officers will continue to patrol the interior of the building and a police cruiser will monitor traffic entering the campus. Media will not be allowed on campus.

Our collective strength and resilience will serve as an example to the rest of the world. Be strong, Newtown.

 

First Step

I could not be more proud of the progress that we made today. Love and support overwhelmed fear, anger, confusion, sadness, and frustration.

We know that we are on a long road to recovery and we are working hard to make sure that supports stay in place for as long as they are needed. That will include the upcoming holiday break.

One of the hardest parts of today was probably just coming to school – and yet you did it! We hope that coming to school tomorrow will be a little bit easier but we realize that the individual nature of grief has highs and lows that may make it difficult. Please know that we will all help each other make it through another day (and another and another and . . .).

We thank all of you for wearing some green today. The Sandy Hook Elementary staff and students would have been proud. We encourage you to wear Blue & Gold tomorrow to continue to show your support for Newtown students.

We are going to have a full day of school across the district tomorrow (except for Sandy Hook Elementary). The high school will be operating on an A-Day so that students and teachers who did not see each other today may connect. If you are scheduled for an Academic Support Center or Study Hall, please report directly to the cafeteria or cafetorium.

This afternoon, we held a faculty meeting to reflect on the day and prepare for tomorrow. I can assure you that there is no staff at any high school in the country that cares more about their students than we do about ours. We will meet again tomorrow after school to reflect and prepare for the next day.

Counseling staff will continue to be available for students, staff, and parents throughout the day. Support centers have been set up in the side gym (students), F-wing offices (teachers), and B141 (parents). Counselors will also be monitoring classrooms and common areas to provide additional support.

Uniformed police officers will continue to patrol the interior of the building and a police cruiser will monitor traffic entering the campus. Media will not be allowed on campus.

Our collective strength and resilience will serve as an example to the rest of the world. Be strong, Newtown.