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  • Ettie Zaklos

Teaching Kindness and Love!

The terrible tragedy right here in Florida this week has shaken us all. We were heartbroken to learn of so many young children and families affected by a violent act that took too many lives. We are all praying for the grieving families and for the broken community that will surely feel the aftermath of this tragedy for years to come. Losing a child to gun violence in a place that should be a safe haven - a school - is every parent's worst nightmare. I am sure I am not the only mother who is hugging her children a little tighter this week.

It is very difficult to know how to react to such an event. My team and I have been looking inward since we heard the terrible news to ascertain that we are doing everything in our power to protect our students. That reckoning takes place on multiple levels. Firstly, on the matter of physical security, we look at potential threats with the utmost seriousness and are very proactive in maintaining the highest standard of security as recommended by our local police and law enforcement departments. As you know, we have an active professional security guard onsite and various security measures that we strictly adhere to. We will also continue training our staff in how to respond to a situation of an active shooter and review all our safety protocols.

The second level of reckoning comes in the form of a reminder of how important our job is to educate our children not just academically but emotionally. While it is not our focus, the reality is that the world has elements that are frightening and unsettling. It is our duty as parents and as educators to give our children the emotional intelligence to not only deal with whatever life throws at them, but to also peacefully coexist with others and contribute to our society. When we reference our holistic education, it is because we are not just teaching ABCs and colors. We are teaching our children critical social skills such as kindness and how to cope with disappointments. Ultimately, what we are duty-bound to provide for our children is a loving and nurturing place where they can come into their own and thrive. It is through love that we will create a better, kinder and more peaceful world for us all.

At Preschool of the Arts we teach with love. For many in the education world, it is our best strategy to prevent a similar tragedy from ever occurring. We look out for those children that need extra care. As the author of this article ( written in response to the shooting put it so eloquently: "It's like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold-the gold being those children who need a little help, who need adults to step in and teach them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts." This is our role as educators and the task we will continue to pursue everyday in our classrooms.

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