The Bobcat Blog
I'm going to give my age away just a bit and admit that when I ponder over the title of this post - "Who is AliCE?"- I immediately think of the tv show that I remember my parents watching when I was a child. This is not the "ALiCE" that we are referring to in this post. Changes in our society have resulted in school security becoming a hot topic in education. It is unfortunate that educators must now address this topic and have open dialog about how we would respond if someone tried to hurt our children. Over the last decade we have all watched in horror as innocent children have become victims in places that are supposed to be safe - their classrooms. Unfortunately, we have seen so many different acts of violence in schools that one can no longer merely assume that school safety is a given. In reality, it is something that school personnel spend countless hours of time studying various plans, meeting with trained law enforcement officials, and implementing the plans through various drills. Schools have spent millions of dollars adding other features (special locks, cameras, etc.) to help secure their students.
The purpose of this post is to inform our BBS families of some changes that we have recently made in our training process. Back in August, the Chattanooga Police Department visited one of our inservice sessions to talk about a shift that has occurred in the philosophy regarding intruders/active shooters in schools. For years schools have conducted drills (at BBS we called them Stranger in the Building or SIB drills) in which they practiced how they would respond if a stranger entered the building with the intent to harm others. The approach has been to immediately go on lock down by locking doors, turning off the lights, and hiding in the classroom. This is the philosophy that has been used in all levels of education from pre-school to college across the country. As law enforcement officers have studied the different scenarios that have occurred over time, they have reviewed the various ways that people have responded to active shooter situations. Their findings have led to a new way of responding to these situations. This new philosophy is called ALiCE and stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate. These new standards are now being recommended by the Department of Education and are also being adopted by many different organizations including K-12 education, colleges and universities, hospitals, and churches. In January, our entire faculty and staff went through additional training by local law enforcement and SWAT members in which we responded to actual active shooter scenarios. After this training, members of our faculty formed a safety committee to develop a new plan specific to Brainerd Baptist School. Their work was recently presented to the entire faculty and staff and discussed in a faculty meeting. I want to say thank you to John Creed for helping lead this committee as well as Regina Ateca, Susan Ledbetter, Janine McCurdy, Koko Payne, and Mindi Wagoner, for their work.
So, if you are still reading this, you may be wondering what this means for your child. They may have mentioned to you sometime this week that they watched a short video about this. We will be conducting our first "ALiCE" drill on Tuesday, May 16. The goal of this drill is just to introduce this concept to our students and see how quickly we can evacuate the entire building while moving to a safe zone. We will use the information gained from this drill and make any necessary changes/improvements in the fall. As a part of this drill, we will also be testing our emergency notification system. You will receive a SMS alert on May 16, as a part of the drill process. While the school will never publish our emergency preparedness plans to the public, I will be happy to discuss any questions you may have. It is crazy to think that a school setting requires conversations like this, but I do want our families to have confidence that we are taking a proactive approach to this topic and are prepared should we ever need to act.
At Brainerd Baptist School, we strive to partner with our families in order to expand minds and prepare hearts. To fulfill this goal, one of the best things we can offer our students is a high quality faculty and staff. This year Brainerd Baptist School will be saying goodbye to three longtime members of our faculty. With over 50 years of combined service to our school, Connie Garmon, Deb Stromberg, and Lisa Kell will be retiring at the end of this school year.
Connie Garmon has been involved in education for 40 years and has spent the last 12 of those years at Brainerd Baptist School. During her tenure at BBS, she has taught in second grade. Connie is encouraged and proud when she sees her students’ continued success beyond her classroom. When asked what she will miss about her time at BBS, Connie said, “I will miss the daily hugs that I receive from my current and past students.” She is looking forward to helping with the grandchildren, traveling, reading, gardening, and—most of all—relaxing.
While Deb Stromberg will be retiring from 38 years of educational experience, her last 15 years have been spent at Brainerd Baptist School. Deb spent her first six years as a first grade teacher, and she is finishing her ninth year as the Bible teacher for first through fifth grade. Deb had this to say about a memorable teaching moment at BBS: “The third graders learn about sheep, the Good Shepherd, and they memorize Psalm 23.” She loves seeing the joy in their faces as they gain a deeper understanding for God’s Word. In the future, Deb and her husband would like to move to North Carolina to be closer to their grandchildren.
Throughout her 25 years at Brainerd Baptist School, Lisa Kell has seen numerous roles. The majority of her time has been spent as a K4 teacher, in addition to five years teaching Bible and music to all K3, K4, and K5 students. Lisa’s lasting impression of BBS includes memories of the BBS community surrounding her family with love during difficult circumstances. Mrs. Kell will be moving permantly to her beach property in Florida at the end of this school year. When considering her future plans in Florida, Lisa added, “The future can only be great because great is all I have known at BBS, and I am ready to see what it holds!”
We are extremely appreciative and grateful for the investment of these three teachers who have poured a tremendous amount of time and energy into Brainerd Baptist School. BBS is a better place because of the passion and love for students exhibited by these teachers. Even though we will miss seeing them in our hallways, we are excited to see and hear how God continues to use them in the future. In the next couple of weeks we will be communicating details for a special reception to be held in honor of these special ladies.