Reinvigorating School Safety

Here we go again…another fire drill, and just when the class lesson was starting to unfold. I could sense every teacher rolling their eyes and every student shifting their focus to this newly allotted social time as they grab their cell phones and herd out the gates and into the parking lot. We know we need to do this. It’s mandatory. No one doubts that safety is important in our schools. We’ve all read the news. But in CTE we know how we can turn the robotic safety drill into a rigorous learning experience by engaging our students into a culture of school safety and responsibility.

The way to achieve this is already at our fingertips. We can easily utilize our CTSO’s competitions that support safety such as First Aid/CPR, or Electrical Construction Wiring; Fire Fighting; Cyber Security; CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) or any competition that highlights safe practices. Skills USA has joined up with Careers Safe to offer scholarships for the best video on safety in the workplace! My HOSA students have competed in Health Education, where they taught the meaning of bullying and what to do if you or someone you know is being bullied. After the Sandy Hook shootings, I had students who were very focused on how those surviving second graders were coping with such a tragedy. The students did not feel they could take on such a deep and complex subject, so they narrowed it down to helping second graders cope with the death of a pet (with parent’s permission of course). It was such a success that the students wanted them to come back again. I have also had CERT trained students be called up to help fill sandbags during a flood – a great way to get community volunteer hours as well.

Our CTE standards and practices have safety embedded into them. Like many courses, I run a lab that requires a safety test. In the classroom we practice aseptic techniques by cleaning our desks, key boards, and counter tops, and we follow practical guidelines to prevent the spread of infectious disease from the common cold to MRSA. We know that certifications boost college and career entry. In C.N.A., our students are certified in first aid/ CPR as they attain their certificate as a nursing assistant. HOSA students can get a discount with IWE (Institute for Wellness Education), and can become a Certified Wellness Ambassador and a Certified Wellness Coach while earning 3 college credits! The content area aligns with CTE standards and College and Career (Common Core) standards. IWE is not free, but it motivates us to find those partners in our community willing to join forces to help fund and educate our students and our community. Recently I had a speaker come from our rural clinic to talk about Teen Dating and Domestic Violence. HOSA students sell glow balloons at homecoming to support our local women and children’s shelter.

Non-CTE teachers generally get on board through personal experience. Our law enforcement students had radar guns pointed on teachers’ cars as they approached our school zone! Our wrestling coach had his heart restarted by my students when he suffered a massive heart attack! We can give our students roles to play when an emergency is upon us. They can be in charge of accountability during a fire drill – is everyone present and in their correct location in the chaotic and crowded parking lot? Can they help keep the crowd moving, and spot those adrift or texting instead of making a consorted effort to evacuate? Can they make a video on how to evacuate a school bus or a poster on parking lot safety?

Recognizing the efforts of those who promote a safe and healthy campus is equally important. It may be as simple as letting the student know you saw them promote safety and are proud of them to recognizing them with an award and a press release.  Wherever safety is needed, a CTE student can step up –after all, leadership in our CTSOs is one more skill that we build and promote.

Stacy Hatton, RN

CTE/C.N.A. Instructor

Rio Rico High School

Rio Rico, Arizona