I have written about this topic before, but with the number of incidents continuing to rise in schools, it seems appropriate to revisit.

In the first week of December, there were two school shooting incidents and multiple threats in our little part of the world in Southeast Wisconsin. The lasting impact of these events is huge, and we need to do more to ensure the well-being of our school personnel.

As a parent of four children (two still in high school) and a professional in the field of crisis management, I spend a lot of time thinking about these incidents and the people who are entrusted to educate, lead and maintain the safety of our children while in their care.

Teachers, administrators and other school support staff already have difficult jobs. But their jobs become even more difficult and challenging during a crisis, especially if they’re asked to manage scenarios that are well out of the norm while remaining calm and leading others.

I am always amazed and grateful for the heroic stories of those who have risked their own well-being to protect and support our children. That’s why it’s imperative to me that we care for and support these folks before, during and after a crisis.

At FEI we often refer to this as “care for the caregiver.” We want to make sure those who are caring for others are prepared for these situations and understand what is expected of them. This goes beyond physical actions and disaster plans, which are very important. We also want to make sure caregivers are mentally prepared for the stress and unusual situations they may face in a crisis. They need to know that they are ready and able to act in case of an event, that they will be supported during an event, and that they will be cared for after an event.

I am not a clinician and therefore can’t and won’t try to teach you how to care for or de-brief folks during and after these events. I’ll leave that to the experts—and I am surrounded by them here at FEI!  However, I will tell you that resilience is not a one-time thing you do to bounce back after an event. Resilience is like a muscle that is built, nurtured and developed over time. The more you work it and build it, the more it helps you and strengthens you.

We speak often of resilience in and for our children and rarely speak of resilience in terms of teachers, administrators and other school support staff. Both are equally important, and both need to be supported and developed. Let’s make sure these “caregivers” have what they need to be successful before, during and after a crisis. They deserve it and our children deserve it, too.

As we bring this year to an end, let’s help these “caregivers” have what they need to be resilient by recognizing the work teachers, administrators and support staff do every day to protect and support our families. A “thank you” will go such a long way to getting things started. Then let’s commit to building and strengthening resilience in our schools during 2020.

I’d like to personally thank the teachers, administrators and other support staff that continue to have an impact on my children, my family and my community. I am grateful for all you have done and will continue to do to support, protect and strengthen us. Have a peaceful and joyous holiday season—and a resilient 2020!