As we head into the Labor Day weekend, I send my best wishes to you and your family for safe travels (if your plans take you away), and special moments together. In my childhood, Labor Day weekend was always associated with the Jerry Lewis’ Muscular Dystrophy telethon–and the news of his recent passing brought all of those memories back of the incredible and important support that fundraising event meant to families in need. Labor Day weekend also meant an annual family reunion. I grew up in the suburbs of Columbus, Ohio, and the extended family would gather at Rising Park in Lancaster, which always included hikes up to the top of the overlook, mischief with my cousins, and lots of great desserts–pie always included! I hope that you and your family create some special memories together that they, too, can fondly remember years later.

While on the topic of your family’s safety this weekend, I would like to share with you some of the ways that the Roycemore faculty work together to ensure that our school is a safe place for your children.

Keeping Your Children Safe
When I refer to a “safe place,” certainly physical safety is critical, but emotional safety is just as important. In this day and age where there is so much going on in our childrens’ lives that can cause them emotional stress, Roycemore works hard to create an environment where every student can feel a sense of belonging.

Emotional Safety
During our faculty in-service the week before school started, our consulting psychologist Jay Einhorn spoke to the faculty on the topic “Student Social-Emotional Safety: Issues and Considerations.” He addressed the needs that children have as they progress through adolescence and the development of the brain, including discussion of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, self-harm and social aggression. He spoke about how to identify warning signs and how to respond. Most importantly, he ensured that our faculty know that he is a resource to them to assist should there be a concern with a student that needs additional support.

Online Safety
Our Lower School students have the benefit of access to technology resources on loan while they are on campus. Our Middle School students receive school-issued Chromebooks. Our Upper School students bring their own devices. We do not allow Middle School and younger students to access cell phones or other such technology during the school day. While students are on our campus, we can limit their access to inappropriate or questionable websites. We can’t control access, however, while the students are not at school, so we ask for your help as partners. While your children are at home, you should feel comfortable to set the rules regarding technology use. Have a charging station in a common area of your house and have your children plug their devices in at those charging stations at night. They should know that you will be checking their technology on random occasions in order to keep them safe. Be familiar with what apps your children have installed on their phones. Some are wonderful. Others… not so much. Your awareness of what they are doing online is important to their overall health. I encourage you to not let your children have their electronic devices in their bedrooms at night. Even if they are not using them, the ambient light from them (and the sounds of texts going off at all hours) interferes with important sleep–the number ONE way that children can prepare their brains for a new day of learning and growing.

Physical Safety
We take this seriously at Roycemore, that is why we had first aid and CPR training for our faculty and staff before the start of school. We have set policies regarding when the building is open and closed (7:30am in the morning until 6:00pm at night unless there is a special event) so we can ensure that the campus is safe. We have many safety and security policies in place. Our character education program focuses on shared values and addresses social aggression. Our Student-Parent Handbook addresses the topic of student behavior and expectations, and we do not hesitate to tackle tough issues head-on with our children. But most importantly, we KNOW your children. Because we are a small school, our faculty truly know each and every student.

Your children are all amazing and each of them brings special qualities to our community. We are here to love and support your children so that they will grow, learn and thrive in an environment that values them as individuals with all of the beauty, complexity, creativity, and yes, flaws that we all have–but that, truly, is what makes us special. It is one of the things I love most about Roycemore. We have an incredibly diverse community of learners that live and learn together every day–and we celebrate each of them as a true Original!

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