Listen to Armando’s poignant words; what Secur Shade will do for teachers, students, staff and parents.
Herbert Hoover stated it eloquently, “Children are our most valuable resource.”
Emma González is just an ordinary teen. Fiercely independent, speaks her mind and just like most, wears her strong emotions on her sleeve.
Yet Emma, is far from ordinary. In February ’18, a gunman stormed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people. Emma didn’t let that tragedy defeat her. No way. It sparked a ferocious fire within her. Emma began a national campaign to end gun violence. She emerged as one of the leaders of this new movement and co-founded the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD.
She wears daily reminders of the victims of Parkland; an array of rubber bracelets on her left arm. The bands are the memories that no person should ever have to witness. You’ll see on Emma’s right wrist, friendship bracelets. “I have friends who are still alive on my other bracelets,” she says.
In March ’18, she conveyed one powerful speech at the March for Our Lives in D.C. 4 minutes.
Four minutes of silence.
240 seconds was the short length of time it took the gunman to kill 17 people and wound 17 more. Emma read their names out loud. The names of her dead classmates.
Because of her advocacy and activism, Florida lawmakers passed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act in March 2018, which raised the age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21 and requires a 3 day waiting period for most weapons. Progress. Thanks Emma.
What were YOU doing at the age of 15? I remember vividly, sitting in my bedroom, listening to music and drawing. I wasn’t protesting climate change. Greta Thunberg, at the age of 15, staged her first, solitary protest in August ’18 at the steps of Parliament in Stockholm, Sweden.
You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to. And the saddest thing is that most children are not even aware of the fate that awaits us. We will not understand it until it’s too late. And yet we are the lucky ones. Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard…. You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before. Like now. And those answers don’t exist any more. Because you did not act in time.Courtesy of Wikipedia
Since then, more than one million students have joined her by walking out of their classrooms to protest against climate change inaction. Greta’s words and passion have inspired MANY. On March ’19 an estimated 1.4 million students in 112 countries around the world joined Greta’s call in striking and protesting.
Our house is on fire. I am here to say, our house is on fire. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if our house is on fire. Because it is.courtesy of The Guardian
“Greta, who has been open about how her autism has shaped her activism, recently joined the Extinction Rebellion protests in London and gave a speech at the House of Commons.” – Courtesy of BBC
“I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is the story of many girls.”Malala
2012 She spoke out publicly on behalf of girls and their right to learn. And this made Malala a target. One day on her way home from school, a masked gunman boarded her school bus and asked, “Who is Malala?” And then he shot her on the left side of her head
Just like a phoenix from the ashes, the assassination attempt didn’t stop her. She had a choice, she could live a quiet life, or fight.
Malala now travels to many countries to meet other girls fighting poverty, wars, child marriage and gender discrimination. Malala Fund is working so that their stories will be heard around the world.
In 2014 she became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
With more than 130 million girls excluded from education today, Malala has her work cut out for her. There is so much more work to be done. She continues her fight for education and equality. Together, she hopes, we can create a world where all girls can learn and lead.
Teachers. They have the power to change our lives forever. I know personally, I am still close to my elementary art teacher (along with several of my college professors). Her kindness and view of art/the world, changed my 8 year old brain forever. But I’ve never asked her why she got into education to begin with.
Let’s be honest, it’s not for the paycheck or the short hours.
The reasons to become a teacher are much deeper than very attractive vacation time and making things with glitter, paste and construction paper. The need for teachers is constant and a much higher need exists for educators in special education, math, science, and English as a second language. The world is becoming smaller by the minute.
We asked our friends and family members that have chosen this noble career of education, a very simple question; Why? And we received some very honest answers. You’ll be surprised. We were.
Ok ok, a NOT so surprising .…
“I became a teacher….because I did not want to work so damn much. I absolutely love having two weeks off at Christmas, a Spring Break and an entire Summer off!!!!! I can share my love of politics and current events with my students!!”MaryJo -History Teacher in South Carolina
Teachers, of course do so much more than teach. Their impact extends far beyond the classroom. As a teacher, you are more than just an educator: you are a mentor, a confidant and a friend. One of the most common reasons to become a teacher is to make a difference in the lives of as many students as you can.
“Once upon a time I was young and naive, I thought I could get into education and work with kids to make a huge difference in their lives. Which I absolutely do get to do! Getting into education had always been all about helping kids. I won’t lie to you, the calendar is appealing, too. But it is not the reason I went into education.”Kate- Occupational Therapist NY State
We’ve all heard that great proverb, ” If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; If you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.“, Ellen, a retired teacher/librarian wanted to do just that. She wanted others to find the information they needed to improve their lives.
“My undergraduate degree is in teaching English, 7-12, but I got sidetracked with a library science minor and decided to get my masters in that field. So yes, I have taught young people, middle aged people, and old people how to educate themselves, how to find the information they need to improve their lives, complete a project, to entertain themselves, find the “real news” in this confusing world, and countless other ways. I am a “teach them how to find needed information by themselves,” rather than a “find the information and give to them” kind of librarian. Kind of like the give a man a fish…. kind of theory.”Ellen- Retired Librarian Watertown, NY
“I became a teacher, because I wanted to give back to my community.” One of the reasons for becoming a teacher is to contribute to your community in a meaningful way. Teaching is one of the most direct ways to make an impact, and if you are driven by the desire to help those around you, being a teacher is an invaluable contribution. You’ll go to work knowing that your students will have to face a changing, sometimes terrifying world of foreign affairs, a scary future of AI and fast-moving advancements in technology/automation. That means, it is absolutely necessary to equip the youngest generation with the tools and skills to innovate in an unpredictable world.
You’ll learn as well as teach.
During lessons, your students will ask questions. In primary education, they are amusing, charming and downright funny. A friend of mine told me once, in her son’s 2nd Grade class, everyone was asked to draw a ‘plant’. Her son drew a factory. Children are surprising.
As a higher level educator, your students will surprise and challenge you. You might have the answers. But other poignant times, you’ll have to dig deeper and look at the world from a different perspective. For example, if you’re a science teacher, you can also be a science student every school year. In the process, you’d have the opportunity to integrate new research, technology, and other science breakthroughs into your lessons.
“I love what I teach. I have a good balance of personality and professionalism. I feel like I can relate to students. I am mostly a very positive friendly person , but can flick the switch if needed. Teaching, at least in VT, allows you to be very creative in how you teach. The downside is all the politics, outside pressure, and the lack of respect that the general population has for the profession. Oh yeah and summertime!”Aaron- Chemistry Teacher South Burlington, VT
And some teachers find that they have influenced entire families! By establishing relationships and extended roots in a community, it means that you’ll be able to build a solid foundation for the future of our world. Just like Lois. She’s been teaching dance/movement for decades, to all ages, and skill levels. “I’m never bored. My students inspire me.”
“I love children and I want to share as much love and healing as is humanly possible to help them. The children that are struggling, they stick out to me. That’s why I teach, for those children. I used to be one of them and part of me always will be. “Lois- Dance Instructor Burlington, VT
Your role as a teacher is to guide the future by influencing students’ views and their understanding of the world they belong in. Also, you’d help them find undiscovered creativity, develop new behaviors, and foster a broadening global view, that will help them maneuver this demanding world with a positive mindset.
“Teachers provided vital support at critical times in my life so that I could graduate high school and go to college. I figured if I could do that for a someone else and do art as well, it would be a satisfying career.”Dick- Retired Art Professor Bomoseen, VT
A teacher’s impact has exponential factor. Changing one life, that in turn changes others. Ok, JUST for a moment, continue down that thought path. It becomes overwhelming filled with possibilities, doesn’t it? The sheer potential to interact with children/adults at all stages of development and from all walks of life, can AND will change the world. A phenomenal teacher will help students along a path that will shape the person they will become. If helping a child that is struggling with low self-esteem, problems at home, or social anxiety…then become a teacher to encourage them. You’ll help them find their self-confidence and discover their potential. Becoming a teacher lets you share life lessons that your students will never forget. Essentially, becoming a teacher allows you to shape the next generation. That’s what drew Autumn into teaching.
“I needed a career where I felt like I was changing the world to make it better. Plus kids are just so damn cute and funny and free and open that they make me a better and happier person. “Autumn – Spanish and Dance Teacher Burlington, VT
Just for a moment, apply a social justice lens to teaching. One student or one class at a time—can be immensely rewarding. You can bridge cultural, political and gender divides. As a teacher you can encourage acceptance, and create an inclusive environment. It’s one thing to teach, it’s another to practice what you teach. And in today’s world, fostering understanding is more important than ever. You have autonomy in your classroom to choose exactly how your students learn. The only limit is your creativity.
“I work in education and I am in it because I want to help create a system where no one is left out and anyone that tries, is given the chance and opportunity to learn in the way they need. Learning can be magical.”Rebecca – Boston, MA
You can improve the quality of education.
The demand for great teachers is a pressing need. Budget concerns, low teacher retention and alarming drop out rates are still happening across America. When you become a teacher, you can have an impact to the education system. Bring a voice to those who wouldn’t have one without you. Teachers with passion, create enthusiasm and inspire others with their dedication, including their students. When a student becomes empowered and inspired, it in turn inspires you as a teacher. It’s a circle of constantly inspiring and instilling passion. What could be better than that?
“When I used to study with my friends in high school, I loved the light of realization that came over their faces when they came to understanding something, and I was so proud of myself for getting them there when the teacher couldn’t.”Jenn -7th Grade Science Teacher Ilion, NY
Teaching is not for everyone. Personally, I took one education class in college and said, “NOPE! That’s not for me.” Teaching is a passion and it takes special people to become teachers, and an even better person to stay in the field past the 3-5 year burnout period. So even if teaching in the traditional sense is not for you, there are many different ways to mentor, guide and help out youth, just like Beth.
“My grandmother was in Education and was given the honor of teacher of the year in the state of Maine. I adored my Grammie and wanted to walk in her footsteps. I also loved working with kids. I have worked with kids in different capacities, toddler head teacher, children’s program coordinator at a domestic/sexual violence agency and now a children’s case manager. I love kids, their personalities and their open genuineness.”Beth -Portland, ME
School shootings don’t just kill and maim, the trauma and terror create wounds and the PTSD that remains, leave deep scars across our society. It is easy to forget that there are humans, mostly children that have experienced terrifying nightmarish scenes that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.
While much research has been done into motives of mass shooters, the psychology of school shooting survivors is just starting. We have so much to learn.
In the 20 yrs since the Columbine high school shooting, approximately 222,500 US students have been exposed to gun violence at 230+ schools nationwide, according to the Washington Post. Many studies show how surviving these traumatizing school shootings can negatively impact all that are involved throughout the rest of their lives. The National Center for PTSD estimates that 28% of people who have witnessed a mass shooting develop post-traumatic stress disorder and about 33% develop acute stress disorder. So it would only make sense that test scores also dramatically plummet. These effects of trauma will stay with the survivors their entire life.
Survivor’s guilt is real. Sydney Aiello, a 19 yr old Parkland graduate and shooting survivor, killed herself. Her family said Sydney struggled with college because classrooms scared her and she had survivor’s guilt following the death of her friend in the shooting. Just like War Veterans, survivor’s guilt is a very real consequence. It needs to talked about.
“She asked often, why she had survived when so many others [did not].” said Sydney’s family.
“The fact that students are often at a point in their lives where their academic future hinges on their success in school, and where that success can falter due to the mental distress of stepping back into a school where violence occurred, has detrimental aftershocks. ” – The Daily Beast
“Simply by definition, mass shootings are more likely to trigger difficulties with beliefs that most of us have, including that we live in a just world and that if we make good decisions, we’ll be safe.” – American Psychological Association
“I don’t deserve to be alive.”
“That should have been me.”
These thoughts can plague a survivor’s mind. The tremendous amount of guilt also prevents them from discussing it with anyone.
One survivor summed it up like this, “It’s like, ‘I have guilt over not dying, this other person died, so why should I complain about feeling sad?’, he said.
Survivor’s guilt can also come from how they behaved or didn’t behave during the tragedy. “Maybe I rushed to get out of the way of the shooter!” or “I pushed past other kids to get away.”
Survivor’s guilt is common in the face of extreme trauma and it absolutely can be treated.
If you or someone you know needs help, first reach out to a mental health professional or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.
Some have said that this PSA is difficult to watch.
And it is.
That’s the point.
This is a short glimpse of what our children and our teachers live in fear of, on a daily basis. It is happening in communities all across our country.
At first glance, the video created by the gun-violence prevention organization, Sandy Hook Promise, created in the wake of the ’12 CT school shooting seems like “just another back-to-school ad”.
The first student says gleefully into the camera, “This year my mom got me the perfect bag for back-to-school.”
In few seconds, it becomes VERY clear that something else is happening. Gunfire erupts behind the students as you see them running for their lives and using anything they can grab to protect themselves, like colored pencils and craft scissors. As one student takes off her new sock to create a tourniquet around her friend’s bloody leg who is in agonizing pain, the viewer has to be wincing, perhaps even looking away…..
And that’s not even the most, absolutely terrifying scene.
Crouched in a dark bathroom stall, a softy weeping student perches on the toilet (so the shooter cannot see her feet). She thanks her mom for her new cell phone. And then ..she texts to her mother, “I love you mom.” as she hears the bathroom door open and ominous footsteps get closer and closer.
The 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting left 20 first-graders and 6 educators dead.
From powerful audible notifications over loud speakers such as codeblue.com , to limiting the number of entrances/exits; much attention has been paid to making schools safer in the wake of mass shooting after mass shooting.
Design and architecture have always played a role in allowing public buildings and spaces to feel and BE safer.
There have been 150 mass shootings in the U.S. since January 1, 2018, and a shocking proportion of those took place in schools.
After the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, designers placed bollards and concrete planters outside federal buildings to deter truck bombs, and installed glass able to withstand a blast in windows and doors.
The need for bollards became increasingly apparent after the car attack in Charlottesville, VA, in 2017, when a car was deliberately driven into a crowd of people who had been peacefully protesting the Unite the Right rally, killing one and injuring 28.
At schools, it’s a challenge. There are many things to consider; visitor parking lots and bus dropoffs, and creating a place that is welcoming to students and that doesn’t resemble a prison. Placing bollards and/or strategically placed planters near the entrance soften the overall design and still prevent a threat from driving into the building. Numerous new schools are now built with a single, primary entrance. Every student, teacher and visitor must come through one entrance.
WINDOWS! Lots of windows! Why?
Windows allow administrators to see folks approaching the building. With lots of glass also comes the challenge of safety. As technology continues to evolve, so will design. Design will adapt, involving law enforcement during the process. Together, we’ll develop strategies that allow our children and teachers not only succeed, but to feel safe and secure in the process. Secur Shade was designed with this in mind.
Our system works in the event of a threat, alerting law enforcement and securing the building, teachers, and its students. But during everyday use, our shades diffuse sunlight with an optimum light-filtering design, that creates a warm, natural light environment for learning.
“Recent neurobiological, epigenetics, and psychological studies have shown that traumatic experiences in childhood can diminish concentration, memory, and the organizational and language abilities children need to succeed in school. For some children, this can lead to problems with academic performance, inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and difficulty forming relationships. Learning about the impacts of trauma can help keep educators from misunderstanding the reasons underlying some children’s difficulties with learning, behavior and relationships. “https://traumasensitiveschools.org/trauma-and-learning/the-problem-impact/
For the children who have gone through a school shooting, that school turns into a battleground; a trauma trigger sparking fear and dread. The school building houses the danger the child has experienced. A school should be a creative, inspiring place to learn, but a shooting/threat can change all that.
As adults, we are aware of the coping mechanisms we manifest to survive. But for a child, this world is filled with threats. It’s confusing and terrifying.
Coping skills are acquired throughout our lives, but as parents, and teachers we can help our children/students by teaching these very important skills:
“Many of the effects of traumatic experiences on classroom behavior originate from the same problems that create academic difficulties: the inability to process social cues and to convey feelings in an appropriate manner. This behavior can be highly confusing, and children suffering from the behavioral impacts of trauma are often profoundly misunderstood. Whether a child who has experienced traumatic events externalizes (acts out) or internalizes (withdraws, is numb, frozen, or depressed), a child’s behavioral response to traumatic events can lead to lost learning time and strained relationships with teachers and peers.”
A school shooting, school lockdown and other traumatic events, will have lasting effects on a child. Some will become preoccupied with their physical appearance; putting too much self-worth on their looks. Eating disorders and psychological damaging behaviors can manifest out of trauma. Students who have experienced trauma can become unsure of adults, fellow students and become very distrustful of the security of the school, in general. We cannot blame them for that. We must encourage conversations with their peers, with their teachers and other supportive groups that they trust. If these fears go unaddressed, this emotional trauma will continue to develop and could create unhealthy relationships for the rest of their lives.
School shooting coverage on TV and how they are blatantly discussed on social media, is absolutely intense. It seems inescapable at times. We’ll hear about the shooting throughout the day, several days, whenever we look at a screen, turn on the radio or look at our phone. The constant inundation of this ‘news’ is intensifying the trauma, making us feel less safe by the minute. The anxiety grows and grows.
Psychologists describe anxiety as the body’s internal alarm system. But when this ‘alarm system’ is triggered too easily and too frequently, your body will start to alert you when there isn’t any actual danger at all.
The “long trail of trauma” sadly doesn’t just affect survivors of school shootings. It is affecting an entire generation of children who are growing up in the shadow of mass school shootings and lockdown drills — in ways that we cannot yet know or measure. It is also creating a generation of anxious and fearful parents.
I’m the mother of a 9-year-old girl. A few months ago I was driving my daughter to school when we saw a police car racing ahead of us and turning into the street on which her school is located.
“Mommy, is someone shooting people at my school?” she asked. My heart in my throat, I responded, “No, sweetie, someone is probably just being pulled over for speeding,” but inside, I was thinking the same thing.
While we impatiently wait for gun reform, the founders of Secur Shade have created a product to make a life-saving decision happen in 3 seconds. Our system simultaneously sends a message indicating a lockdown event with its location within the school to previously selected authorities – principal, security officer, police, DHS, etc.
We must do everything we can to prepare the students, teachers and families – with tools to process their anxieties, fears and traumas. The more we talk about this subject openly, the more we can begin the collective process of healing.
Healing from trauma takes mental health professionals, support of family and friends, and architecture? Sandy Hook did just that.
Sandy Hook school design was like many other schools across the country built in that time period; lots of brick, rectangular glass, cold steel. Very austere.
What was created in those months, was nothing more than magic. By erasing the horrific past, a phoenix rose from the proverbial ashes in design, light and color!
“Newtown decided it was best to demolish the Sandy Hook school and erect a new building on the same property. The town organized a search to find an architect to design it on a tight 20-month schedule, using $50 million given to the town by the state of Connecticut.” – Courtesy of Architect Magazine
After interviewing numerous architectural firms, the community decided on Svigals + Partners’. The importance of community, textures, shapes, nature, color, functionality, but most importantly the design is to lift the hearts and minds. The uplifting of spirit started from the get-go.
“I’m thinking all these architects are going to come in with stuffy suits and tell us how it’s going to be done,” remembers Anzellotti, who’s been a custodian with the school system in Newtown for 15 years. “At the very first meeting we sat there and they went to each person individually, in front of everybody, and said, ‘What did this school represent to you? What does this town represent to you?’ I thought that was pretty cool. Everybody shouted out ideas. They didn’t knock anything down, they just listened to everybody.” –Courtesy of Architect Magazine
Svigals insists, “We can’t remember who made any of the decisions. It was so collectivized. For instance, Sandy Hook, which is a small village within the larger municipality of Newtown, is knit together by a series of footbridges across the Pootatuck River. The river and the bridges were one of the things many of the townspeople said they loved.”
Taking inspiration from the surrounding nature, the footbridge motif was created for the school. To enter the school you’ll have to cross 1 of 3 footbridges, a design that also ensures that everyone is forced to approach the building along 1 of 3 well-watched pathways. Simple calculations to the building’s overall design to address security concerns. The approach to security, according to McFadden, was driven by a concept called Criminal Prevention Through Environmental Design, which stresses openness and clear sightlines over ‘bunker-building’.
The final interior design is nothing short of awe-inspiring!
In the last 11 decades, scientific studies have proven that human-environment-reaction in the architectural environment is, to a large percentage, based on the sensory perception of color. In short, it confirms that human response to color is total – it influences us psychologically and physiologically. One of the most amazing results concerning color, is its consistency cross-culturally and around the globe. From women to men, adults to children, and even monkeys to humans, show that color is an international language understood by all.
The end result back at Sandy Hook Elementary is a fascinating study in what happens when an architecture firm invests its ego not in the formal attributes of its buildings, but in the quality of its community collaboration with all the people, young and old, who will use them.
Or as Anzellotti puts it, “It’s almost like we worked for them. That’s how they made us feel. It was really comfortable.”
1 year ago today, a gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 students and staff members, and injured 17 more.
Please take a moment to hold the victims and survivors in your heart and honor them.
Its your job, our job, to make sure they didn’t die in vain.
Congress still hasn’t passed strong legislation to address gun violence. But we must keep fighting – along with the MSD survivors and students across the country who are working to #EndGunViolence.
Together, we will make change.
“Those at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School knew their lives would be transformed by the massacre. Many had no idea of the many ways that would happen.” –New York Times
PTSD, depression, activism(founding of “March for our Lives”), mental illness, trauma, life-changes, love, art, fear; all remnants of the Parkland shooting.
“We have seen fail rates of 60 % to 81 % during simulations that require individual staff members to make & communicate the lockdown decision “CampusSafetyMagazine.com
With a press of one button, our Secur Shade system simultaneously sends a message indicating a lock down event with its location within the school to previously selected authorities – principal, security officer, police, DHS, etc.
“As a campus safety professional, it’s our responsibility to make sure our students and staff are safe and sometimes it can seem like spending money on the most high-tech solutions is the best way to go.”
Under everyday use, Secur Shades are raised and lowered manually by a continuous loop, and function as an energy-efficient window shade. They allow natural light in, while keeping outside heat out in Summer, and retain interior heat in Winter. Our system can be programmed to automatically activate every night or weekend. This programming also emphatically identifies any malfunctioning shades and provides greater utilization of the shades’ benefits (privacy, security, heat control etc.).
For more information, please contact our president, Gordon Clements