Monday and Tuesday of this week found me at a VTRA Level 3 (Violent Threat Risk Assessment) training. It was informative, frightening, unifying; worth the time away from school.
Monday, day 1, was led by the president of Safer Schools Together , the always informative, Theresa Campbell. Her colleague Sam Jingfors took an hour or so to lead us through ways to dig deeper on the internet. I was impressed with how many of the popular apps I was already familiar with. On the other hand, there are many that were still new to me: Tinder, Secret, Whisper. Plenty of seemingly random stuff that’s useful to know. Kudos to our SD#35 District Principal of Safe Schools, Renge Baille for organizing the training.
Day 2 was especially meaningful to me as it was led by my highly respected colleague, Kim Liefso. Kim wears many hats, the latest being her affiliation with Safer Schools Together. One would think that listening to one speaker for an entire day would be tiresome but that was not the case. Kim’s expertise in mental health, her currency in suicide prevention, and her engaging manner kept the room on task, perhaps even percolating with enthusiasm at several points.
It is not often that we have two full days to spend together with counsellors, members of the RCMP, MCFD, child protection, CYMH, LYFS, school administrators, as well as our Assistant Superintendent. AND, from more than one district. Langley, Delta, and Coquitlam were all represented. This was a clever clever room evidenced by the input from many as we debriefed several case studies. The collective wisdom of the room was humbling.
Most impactful to me, was the camaraderie in the room. People knew each other. Cross agency knowing. Powerful! The willingness to work together as one big team was inspirational. The need to provide safety, both physically, and emotionally for our students will continue to be an ongoing challenge. The commitment to just that, and do it better than ever was reinforced throughout these two days. Courage to ask questions, to dig deeper, to explore troubling trends with the intent to, if not stop, at least slow them down, was alive and well in this room!
As I reflected on the training on the drive home, I was in awe of the experience. We are given much responsibility. Indeed, there is little that is a greater responsibility than the care of our youth. In a field that is not an exact science, a process where no two cases are alike, a protocol that has clarity; yet is flexible, because each child is different, left me believing, make that knowing, that we have moved forward. We are doing this better all the time. There was power in the room that reaffirmed once again, that better is possible.