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Safety is Not a Political Act

Today marks the second anniversary of George Floyd’s indefensible death. Yesterday, we spent a portion of an all-staff meeting supporting one another in response to the many tragedies of the last few weeks, including Buffalo and Los Angeles.

And now, Uvalde, Texas is reeling from yet another unspeakable mass murder of children and educators. Millions of educators, school counselors, support staff, crossing guards, paraprofessionals, families, and communities are too. Again. Since Columbine in 1999, more than 311,000 students have experienced gun violence at school. There are no words for the sorrow and outrage that NTC is feeling.

A majority of our staff are former teachers and principals, instructional coaches and administrators. Imprints of classrooms and hallways are part of us, forever. And we’re out in a school district most days, side-by-side with educators from San Antonio to rural Alabama to Miami and beyond. Somehow, with tenacity and unimaginable will, teachers are showing up today. They’re attempting to support their students as best they can. To protect them and love them and to make spaces that feel safe.

But who will do this for our educators?

They’re already running on fumes. Yes, the pandemic’s long tail continues. But on top of this, educators are expected to provide optimal learning environments while being bombarded by and witness to injustice, violence, and tragedy daily. All while we’re seeing social-emotional supports for children and adults being stripped away.

For children to be well, adults have to be well. NTC will take steps to support our people, focusing on an organizational wellness strategy. We do this to activate our assets and resilience. We must be our best selves to offer the kind of human-centered support adults across the school community rely on to navigate these challenges — especially when doing so without rest or opportunities for processing.

And ultimately, we must evolve what we do in touch with the truth: our people-driven coaching can only support and co-create thriving school communities if they’re safe. The uneasiness and fear that sit on the shoulders of our teachers and students make education’s possibilities unattainable. No one can pursue a life of opportunity, joy, and curiosity when uncertain of their security.

It is not a political act to want and live in safe schools and communities.

We see our work as critical and our aspirations for what the teaching and learning experience can be as unassailable. We see our colleagues and friends and partners’ pain and say: we’re here. We’re committed to doing everything we can to put your well-being at the center of our support.

And we will focus on ways to leverage our position and privilege to eliminate the threat of violence that imperils our schools from actualizing their visions. In heartbreak and unity, we stand with you, Robb Elementary, Uvalde, and every other educator, school-based adult, student and family.

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This week, our offices will close for a much-needed break. A core part of our approach to professional learning is embracing and nurturing the wellness of our educators. That goes for our staff too. We’ll take some time for the things and people that bring us joy and fill our cups to sustain our work for the long haul.