CCS superintendent: students need to feel ‘part of something’
Each time reports of a school shooting reach his desk, Chase County Schools Supt. Joey Lefdal asks himself, “What can we do differently here to help kids?”
Those thoughts resurfaced Feb. 14 after 17 people died in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
As news unfolded that a 19-year-old former student was arrested for the murders, Lefdal believes one of the tasks at hand is to find out how to help kids who are hurting not to choose that option.
“I ask myself—are we reaching kids and how can we help them?” Lefdal said.
While there is often a lot of finger-pointing after a school shooting, Lefdal, a former school counselor, said the causes are often a combination of things.
He agreed there were a lot of red flags in Florida about the 19-year-old shooter, and it’s important to “report, report, report.
“There’s a point where kids ask for help and we need to respond,” he said.
In his experience, Lefdal said it’s often easy to tell when a student is struggling. He may notice them as they enter school in the morning, most recently this week when he spent some time holding open the door as students entered the school building.
“We have to work with kids and help them feel they are part of the school, so they feel they are part of something,” he said.
“One of the most powerful things we can do is to greet them,” he added.
With that in mind, CCS has instituted a number of efforts emphasizing a positive experience at the school.
Lefdal gave a few examples of some of the actions they’ve taken in that realm.
One is creation of the middle school at CCS, which he said gives grade 5-8 students a “feeling of their own environment,” versus being in between the grade school and high school.
Moving the alternative eduction program back into the school building is another positive move, he said. Previously the program was housed off campus at the Wellington building, but Lefdal believes the change helps those students, again, “feel they are part of the school.”
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