The Total Child

Blog Tour: Impact School Safety by Learning to Love

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Guest post by Dr. Bernadine Futrell, Director, Leadership Services at AASA, The School Superintendents Association. This blog was written as part of National Healthy Schools Day.

When considering the question, How can school system leaders help children in their district feel safe, as well as have their physical and social – emotional needs met in a healthy school environment?, I look to love.

Centuries of research continue to point to a loving and caring adult as a principle factor in a child’s life¹ . Coupled with high rigor and expectations, love can be a significant tool in the search for solutions for school safety.  

In my experience as a district administrator, educational researcher and now through my work in professional learning at AASA, love – self-love and the love of others has always been a goal in public education. Because it has consistently nourished healthy environments.

Schools who focus on the social emotional needs of students have shown the most advances in other areas of student outcomes including student achievement. Simply put, when students feel like they belong (are loved) the academic outcomes are also positive.  

Students learn love from a variety of ways, including exposure to positive examples of people from all backgrounds and experiences. Creating opportunities for students to develop mental models of success that reflect themselves as well as others helps students develop love and compassion. School across the country are making intentional efforts to introduce diversity in their district leadership, classroom and curriculum.

This mental modeling, helps children see a future that is attainable and positive for them. It also helps all students see value in all humans.

Simple, yet powerful, when kids learn to love, communities learn to love, and when love is spread – environments are safer for all – including in and out of school.

¹Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University. https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/


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