I cannot imagine being in the situation that Dawn Hochsprung and her staff were in, as a gunman unleashes his anger and confusion on a school filled with young children. I imagine that, and hope I will never be in a similar situation, but it’s hard not to think about it, when you are a principal and in addition, your school is a PreK – Grade 4 school, the same configuration as Sandy Hook elementary.
We practice lockdown drills a few times a year. We try to do them with different levels of threat considered. We talk to the students about safety and regularly talk about what we may need to do to increase the safety of our students. That being said, Sandy Hook had excellent protocol around student safety and security as well. No matter our measures, there is always a chance that something can happen that is totally unexpected.
Scenarios run through my head. They range from hiding and calling 911, to confronting the perpetrator, and even some action movie kind of take down! (if you’ve ever seen me, you know the unlikelihood of that one!) The teachers who were killed were put in a situation where they were doing what they could to protect their students. School needs to be a place where students feel safe and protected from the harm of the world. I do everything I can to make the school a safe place. We have currently upgraded our security system to incorporate fobs for entry; we have only the main door accessible throughout the day. We have plenty of staff outside on supervision. We try to ensure all visitors stop in at the office on their way in, and if they don’t they are approached by someone in the office.
I don’t think anyone can know exactly how they would react in that situation. My hope is that we would do whatever we could to protect the students that we have been entrusted to care for. We would put ourselves in harm’s way to make sure students were safe. We would ensure that we were practiced and ready as much as possible for the unthinkable to occur.
I can’t say what I would do exactly, but I would do what I could; much like anyone who is in this profession.