CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Responding to school crises and managing the aftermaths is a high-priority topic as tragedies pop up across the nation. In Centre County, over 100 administrators, counselors, and social workers experienced a unique opportunity to improve their readiness.
Cheri Lovre, founder of the Crisis Management Institute, led a three day School Crisis Training Workshop, held at the State College Area High School.
Leaders from Moshannon Valley, Curwensville, Keystone Central, Bellefonte, Philipsburg, State College, Clearfield and West Branch districts, as well as the Clearfield County Career and Technology Center and the Central Intermediate Unit attended.
“It’s unusual actually that administrators are driving crisis training, but this region is really into getting themselves to the next level up,” said Lovre.
“We all are going to be facing crises in our school, so it’s better to be prepared,” said Keystone Central School District Superintendent Jacquelyn Martin. “No school has to be on an island by themselves or deal with this alone.”
The training is small-group based and focuses on lowering anxieties and building resilience.
“Each tragedy has its own unique circumstances,” said Martin. “Having folks have some time to think through their actions or plan for potential solutions was super helpful.”
Lovre’s training speaks on the untimely or unexpected death of a student, arrests of students or staff, and the unlikely but still present threat of a school shooting.
“It’s a very small number of our students that die of violence in schools,” said Lovre. “Our schools are remarkably safe.”
She said one in 1,600 children will die from gun violence outside of school.
“Kids are far less safe playing with their neighborhood kids than they are at school,” said Lovre.
Lovre said the way we prepare students for a crisis should be strategic.
“We need to walk a very cautious line of what it does to kids psychologically to over and over and over again barrage them with the fact that there may be a shooting in school,” said Lovre. “What I’m seeing is children who bring guns to school because they’re afraid, and we’ve told them to be.”
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With over 40 years of experience responding to mass shootings at schools like Columbine, suicide clusters in multiple districts, natural disasters impacting schooling, and school upheaval after arrests of staff… Lovre said she’s very impressed with the interest and engagement from the Centre County schools.
“I would send my kid to any one of these schools in a heartbeat,” said Lovre. “I’ve been very heartened by this group, more so than any other training I can think of. I’m very impressed.”