The month of May was difficult for the city of Winston Salem. As a parent and a head of school, I am aware that the number one concern for schools is the safety of children. This month Winston Salem Forsyth County Schools had reports of three guns in local middle schools, and a knife threat in a local elementary school. These events caused a series of phone calls from prospective families asking about our safety protocols As we have reviewed some elements internally, I wanted to take the opportunity to address some of our policies that I wanted to share with each family.
Our locked down facility provides a great structure to provide safety for our students. A single point of entry allows a front desk receptionist to greet families, while utilizing a secure buzzer system for any unknown guests. Our block building provides a high level of safety from natural disasters, and our students and teachers are equipped with a plan of action for potential issues. Once inside, our small environment allows families and students to be known in a personal way by staff that are present on campus, and a dress code that helps identify anyone that should not be on campus. We also have 16 cameras throughout the building that allow us to monitor and review activity on campus. There are 4 locations that have a live feed, as well as administrative access on our phones. All of these elements are in place to ensure a physically safe experience for our students. Just this past week, Mr. Branscome, our IT director, was beta testing new 360 degree cameras to be utilized in our new location!
Emotional safety is a second layer and understanding to safety. There are so many pitfalls for the emotional safety of our kids, and while there are inevitable emotional scars involved in life, we utilize several outlets to help limit and recover from life’s difficult emotional moments. Mrs. Carden, our school counselor, is active in the conversations with students about the general trials and difficulties of life, offering insight and wisdom for our students from a biblical perspective. Each of our upper school students belong to an advisory group that meets weekly. These advisory groups provide an adult mentor to each student in grades 6-12. Weekly meetings offer opportunity for prayer and discussion. All of our teachers seek to be active in the lives of students, offering encouragement and support to everyone here on campus. Lastly there is a desire to communicate with the home in difficult conversations to ensure there is a clear line of communication between school and family. Perhaps one of the most beneficial elements of emotional safety is our willingness to help students reconcile issues that arise, teaching students the importance of repentance and forgiveness. Teaching students to handle and appreciate differences from a biblical perspective is a vital part of what we do!
I often say I love Christian education because I know that every adult at WSCS cares about the eternal destination of my children, and all of the students at WSCS. Spiritual formation is the highest calling of Christian education, and it is a high privilege to walk along side of students in their spiritual journey, introducing them to Christ and continuing to disciple them as they mature. Chapel programs, Bible classes, and academics that are developed from a Biblical worldview provide a spiritual foundation from our ELC through 12th grade. Through all of these venues, students are introduced to the life changing grace of Jesus Christ!
This approach to “spiritual safety” allows us to take a holistic approach to our students and the safety provided here on campus. Every day we are blessed with the opportunity to love, care for, and educate nearly 400 students on campus. I hope this understanding of our approach for safety helps you understand some of the provisions from WSCS. Thank you for entrusting your children to our care.