As part of its “Whatever it Takes” initiative, the Dunkirk City School District recruited Don Shomette, a nationally recognized school violence prevention expert, to address faculty and staff on Wednesday during the opening days of professional development.
Shomette’s “Safe & Loved” presentation highlighted the benefits of a holistic approach to school safety and directly aligned with the district’s goal to improve the perception of inclusivity and safety within the school community.
“Our district is committed to social-emotional learning, and our goals are reflective of that,” said Superintendent Michael Mansfield.
“We are ready to do whatever it takes to improve outcomes for our students,” he continued. “It is imperative that Dunkirk students, staff, families, and community members feel safe and welcome in our schools.”
Shomette discussed the power of engagement, compassion, and love in the effort to improve school safety. “With gratitude and personal relationships we can have the greatest impact on student safety,” he said.
He also spoke on the importance of sending a strong message of care and concern to students and parents, as well as encouraging greater communication.
“If you improve the culture, you improve safety,” Shomette told employees. “Safety is not a stand alone. We have to blend violence prevention into everything we do.”
Shomette is a former police officer, school resource officer, therapeutic foster parent, violence prevention expert for the state of Virginia, and served 12 years in the Marine Corps.
Mansfield said that the district’s often overlooked “Whatever it takes” tagline is actually quite an important commitment — one he hopes will be made by all community members.