Reflections from Executive Director Kevin Casey


In our Winter 2022 edition of Vanguard, the SAANYS magazine that focuses on practices from practitioners, we examined a day in the life of a school leader. We looked at the state of the profession, and particularly how that profession has been modified by the pandemic experience. There was an analysis of the school environment, its challenges and purposes, as well as the self-assessment of a principal. There was no discussion about racially motivated mass murder in the neighborhood supermarket or the senseless murder of innocent students and staff in an elementary school.

The last two years have been very difficult for educators, but all the pandemic hardships pale when one considers recent events in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas.  These horrific events are a recurring phenomenon in our society, yet when we study the school environment, like we did in the Winter edition of Vanguard, we do not include school shootings. It was not a conscious decision to exclude that topic (upon which we have written in the past) but I think it is rather a subconscious denial to accept that mass shootings are part of our school environment, and our society at large.

Educators rightly work hard to create a culture and climate that is nurturing, caring, and designed to support the success of students and staff alike. Such a climate is designed to promote the healthy goals of schools. To consider shootings a part of our reality seems incongruous with the principles of educators. We have safety plans, trauma toolkits, and grief counseling services…, but as a society, we take no meaningful steps to alter the status quo. Instead, we focus on how we will react when, inevitably, that trauma is again imposed upon us.

It is profoundly depressing to have come to the conclusion that for those of us unrelated to the victims, this too shall pass, until such time it repeats. It is the acceptance of the repetition that is the indictment of our society at large.  Thoughts and prayers are an inadequate defense.