Article

A Letter to Teachers From Scholastic About the Connecticut School Tragedy

By Richard Robinson, President and CEO, Scholastic Inc.
Sunday, December 16, 2012

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Richard Robinson, President and CEO of ScholasticAs we heard the news of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings on Friday morning, we immediately went to work doing what Scholastic has done throughout our nearly 100 year history — offering analysis and support for teachers on how to help the children and families they serve. We know that Monday morning you will be greeting children who have heard news media stories over the weekend about this tragic school shooting of young children and their teachers. To help you prepare to talk with your classes during the coming week, you can find a complete list of resources at www.scholastic.com/teachers.

Sadly, we at Scholastic have far too much experience helping students, families, and teachers understand and deal with tragic events.  From 9/11 to recent shootings, from floods to hurricanes, these disasters are almost incomprehensible to children, and we share a responsibility to enable children to cope with them.

The advice we gave in the past is still true for our classrooms today.  We do not ignore disturbing events, but especially with younger children, we do not dwell on them.  We emphasize that the event is past, that the schools are safe, that we are deeply sorry for the families affected, and we go on working and learning at school.

These events remind us that our teachers and our schools are the greatest support that children and families can have in times of tragedy, and that we must not let this event cause us to fortify our schools or board up our classrooms in fear. Instead, we must ensure that our schools, and our teachers, can continue to provide families with optimism and hope, coupled with practical ideas for ensuring that our schools remain safe places for learning. 

We also need to have a strong national dialogue on guns in or near schools, as well as the critical role of social service and mental health professionals supporting the children and teachers in our schools. Providing a safe learning environment is foundational. We must also continue to enable schools to be places of caring and warmth, where we emphasize positive values and the skills that will allow children to realize their own greatest fulfillment as people and contributors to our society.

Our hearts go out to the 20 families who lost their dear first-grade children. We mourn for the six adults — teachers, principal, and school psychologist — who gave their lives to protect their students at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our shared grief is not enough, however, to honor their sacrifice. We ask our political leaders to take action against the presence of assault weapons so we can take at least one step toward ensuring a society where children and teachers are free to learn without concern of deadly attacks.  We also must work to mitigate the gun violence that affects some urban children on their way to school every single day. We count on teachers and public servants to shoulder the responsibility for our children’s safety, but we do not give them the support they need. Our society needs to increase the availability of school health resources, and to pass laws that will protect schools and children against gun violence.

Meanwhile, Scholastic will continue to provide the information and ideas that teachers, children, and families need — in times of violence and tragedy, and also for families experiencing difficulty every day. The way to a better society is to build stronger, more confident young people with the academic skills and the enthusiasm for learning they need.  As always, we are proud to help teachers give hope and direction, especially as we reflect on Friday’s shocking morning of gun violence in school, a place that is dedicated to society’s highest hopes.

In closing, we deeply honor the six educators who gave their lives to protect their students, demonstrating the heroism that is emblematic of the teaching profession at its finest. 

  • Subjects:
    Public Safety
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