When Community Comes First

It should come as no surprise that school safety has driven more than a few discussions, deliberations and decisions in the past few weeks and months. In Eudora, our leaders have made safety a top priority for a period of years, even if safety concerns and the challenges we face have changed over time.

As superintendent — but also as a dad — I find that it’s impossible not to be personally affected by the violence we’ve seen in schools over the past several months. And as I hear from the parents and patrons in our district, I get a sense that feelings of fear, uncertainty and helplessness really are universal right now.

Fortunately, Eudora has a history of working together to brainstorm, share, reflect and explore local solutions to problems, large and small. And I’m proud to say that we showed up again to do this at a community meeting Monday night.

More than 100 parents, patrons, employees and community partners engaged in thoughtful discussion for 90 minutes. Not only did conversations address the role of schools in safety — they also included dialogue with leaders from Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department and the Eudora Police Department. After all, it requires investment from all of us to ensure safe schools and a safe community.

Group discussion with EMS Principal Jeremy ThomasAs I listened to conversations happening in each of the three areas, I heard people sharing what they believe is going well — and what could use more attention. I heard discussions ranging from social media and school entrances, to the barriers that exist for students and families who could benefit from mental health services.

 

What I didn’t hear was arguing, debating or name calling. Our students, families and employees deserve so much more than the echo chamber of debates we watch play out on the news and our social media feeds. The only impassioned agenda I heard in the EHS gymnasium on Monday night was genuine concern for making our schools and community safer for everyone. I’m proud of Eudora.

Group discussion with Nicole Rains, representing Bert Nash Community Mental Health CenterAs I reflect on what we accomplished last night — and the feedback we will be compiling and reporting to our community in the coming weeks — I was inspired by the notion that strong partners and good neighbors are how we ensure a safe community. And I was reminded that local solutions exist for virtually any problem we face, when we set aside our differences and put our community first.

Thanks to all the people who participated in our community meeting. You once again help illustrate how powerful a local community can be when people show up ready to think, listen, and work together.

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