HOPEWELL: Can we find a way to have both security and kindness in our schools?


To the editor:

I am a parent of two children who have benefited greatly from their time in our excellent school district. From my perspective, one of the most important assets of the HVRSD is its caring and dedicated staff. Over the past ten years I have witnessed abundant acts of personal kindness, professional excellence, and integrity from the many adults who have worked with my children.

A recent article in Hopewell Valley News drew attention to the efforts that HVRSD is undertaking to increase security in our schools. One of these initiatives has been to hire new Campus Safety Officers who have law enforcement training. The need for enhanced security is undeniable. However, the inevitable consequence is that long-serving, dedicated safety officers without firearms experience are being redirected to other roles.

In the case of Bear Tavern Elementary school, a dedicated staff member who has served admirably for twelve years will shortly be relieved from his current capacity. This individual is deeply admired by this community. He knows hundreds of children and parents by name, including baby siblings and older children who have long gone on to higher grades. He plays kickball with the children at recess, imparting lessons of fairness and good sportsmanship. He has been a pillar of constancy and continuity at the school, serving through some rocky previous years with a rotating cast of building principals. I can always count on him for a kind word of welcome or an offer to help solve a problem.

I can’t imagine that this community would not want to find a way to keep this fine individual in his current capacity, given how much good he does for the children and for the Bear Tavern community. While Bear Tavern will benefit from enhanced security in the building, it will also need a voice of comfort and reason. I think that we can find a way to have both security and kindness, because we desperately need both. Given the many talents and capacities of this community, I urge us to put our heads together and find a win-win for the sake of our children. Obviously, this is a budget cost issue that will require some fiscal innovation. But that is exactly what this community is great at – so let’s find a way.

Teresa M. Nakra

Board Secretary, Hopewell Valley Education Foundation