Members of the West Virginia University Police Department recently teamed with College of Education and Human Services students for a training session to prepare these future teachers on how to recognize and respond to imminent threats at schools and conduct effective safety procedures.
Most teachers are trained on-site at their schools as a precaution, but since the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 and, more recently, Newtown, Conn., preparing future teachers for such emergencies has become more common.
WVU Police are looking to see that trend implemented at CEHS.
Bob Roberts, director and chief of the university police department, feels that in light of the Newtown school shootings, taking time to educate future teachers on how to handle threats has become more important than ever. He contacted Matthew Anderson, coordinator of the Masters in Education & Teachers Certification (MA+) program, to discuss the idea of making the training a permanent fixture in the program.
“After Newtown, we reached out to the local Board of Education and started doing training with them, going to some of the local schools,” said Roberts. “At that point, I thought, we need reach out to our future teachers here at the University and prepare them before they go out into the classroom.”
Roberts believes that it is better to have the proper training and not have to use it, than to not know how to react when a situation arises. He and his department are using interactive training materials called Shots Fired and Flashpoint that are used to conduct training for teachers, students, and healthcare professionals.
Shots Fired and Flashpoint prepares individuals to handle challenging situations, including how to recognize violent and concerning behavior and minimizing the risk of physical harm in an instance where there is an active shooter. Participants also learn how to respond in the presence of other dangers like natural disasters.
“Knowledge is an important tool to have; it will replace fear,” Roberts said. “By providing this training to our future teachers before they enter the classroom the procedures will be more familiar to them and save lives. That’s what we want to accomplish, especially for young kids.”
Anderson hopes to see a continued partnership between University Police and the MA+ curriculum.
“This partnership is a win for everyone,” Anderson said. “It helps better prepare our future teachers to contribute to a safe school environment and build community relationships.”
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CONTACT: Christie Zachary, College of Education and Human Services