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Letter to the editor: Avoiding school shootings requires all in community

I am sure there will be many letters written in response to news of our community’s near miss: “Police, school officials avert Middlebury middle school shooting,” Dec. 18, 2018. I want to address one line in the article that might otherwise go unnoticed, in which John Flowers writes that this near tragedy is “a lesson for educators to invite more frank discussion from students about safety issues in and out of school.”
I do not believe this is a lesson for educators, as this is one case where things worked as they should, i.e. a student spoke to a trusted adult, and a tragedy was averted. As a former teacher, and spouse of a current teacher at MUMS, I have always believed that our schools are filled with caring adults, and that every child has access to at least one, if not many, trusted and caring adults, whether that be a TA teacher, a bus driver, a paraprofessional, or a principal with whom they play football at recess.
I believe the real lesson here is the need for the community to have more frank discussions about mental health, gun rights and responsibilities, and what can be done to take the burden off our over-worked educators so that they can concentrate on the kids with whom they work. I think we give lip service to the idea that teachers work hard, but I don’t think anyone outside the school buildings truly understands how demanding their jobs are, and how hard they work. I hope we as a community can thank all those who helped avert this tragedy, starting with the student who spoke up and the adults he or she trusted.
Kurt Broderson
Middlebury

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