We’ve teamed up with community partners and experts to focus on the physical, social, and emotional safety of all of our students. Many of our new initiatives include the use of technology to enhance current safety practices. From giving our city's safety forces access to video (even exterior bus cameras) to online monitoring of our students' activity via email and Google searches to giving folks the ability to report concerns anonymously and more.
When people think of safety, much of the time the first aspect that pops into mind is physical safety. In Mentor Schools, from a preparation and planning standpoint, the most obvious part of our safety plan comes in the form of secure buildings and an array of drills we conduct regularly. Fire, bus evacuation, active shooter or intruder (ALICE), tornado, lockdown, table-top, scenario-based drills and more -- these are all important to help make sure we are prepared and that our students and staff know what to do in case of a school emergency.
We also focus on prevention by investigating potential threats and concerns as soon as we hear about them. As a community it is vital that we all approach school safety with a See Something? Say Something! philosophy in mind. This means anyone in our community should feel comfortable to report suspicious activity or worrisome behavior in connection with our schools at any time. You can do this by contacting any of our offices, our crisis hotline (974-HOME), or even the police if you have immediate concerns that need to be addressed.
Our partnership with both the Mentor Police and Mentor Fire departments are paramount to keeping our school safe. From assisting with plans and drills to conducting building inspections and walkthroughs, we can count on our community’s safety experts to prioritize students and schools. To that effect, we have increased our police officer presence in the district this year by adding MPD officer shifts to both middle schools everyday. This is in addition to our district School Resource Officer (SRO) and a second officer being stationed at Mentor High School each day. Already the police officers in the middle schools have proven to be beneficial and we are pleased to be working together.
When it comes to social and emotional safety, we work hard to build a culture of kindness and compassion in all of our schools, in part by empowering students to help set the tone of expectations among peers. This happens through a variety of clubs and programming, such as Rachel’s Challenge, Kindness Rallies, the Stick Together program, student ambassadors - to name a few. We know a positive, accepting school climate is definitely a safer one, too. Keep in mind, the majority of our students make good choices and treat others respectfully, but no matter how many programs we have in place, some students will still make poor decisions. And while not always, but often, we find mental health issues at the root of that.
Our teachers, support staff, school counselors, psychologists, therapists and administrators are all equipped to help students who may be struggling with something- whether it stems from school or from home. But, we've also continued to increase the extra professional supports available for students and their families as we’ve noticed an increase in the need to do so. Mental health experts from Crossroads are now in our schools every day. Mental health issues can intensify if left unaddressed, so the Crossroads experts are embedded in our schools to help with early identification and intervention.