@SuperSonoma ~ Socorro Shiels

Socorro Shiels Socorro Shiels is the superintendent of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District.

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Back to school, back to teaching

Posted on September 12, 2019 by Socorro Shiels

It’s a great time in schools. Everyone is excited. Things are new and fresh, from school supplies to room decorations to sneakers and backpacks. We see old friends, whether that be our colleague we work next to or our favorite friend in our science class. In schools, it also gets us thinking again about how to keep everyone safe so they can do their best learning. 

Across the district, staff is learning about Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS) and working with students accordingly. At its heart, PBIS is grounded in being explicit about expectations in all sorts of situations – (What does making a good choice look like in the library? What does a safe choice look like in the bathroom?) – and to provide a positive learning framework for students to help them make responsible decisions as they grow in their self-awareness and self-management. It asks all adults to be consistent in how we talk about rules and how we reinforce both making good choices and applying the consequences that follow if those good choices are not made. Speak with your teacher and your principal about what this looks like for your child – this is happening at every grade level in developmentally appropriate ways. 

We also are gearing up for fire/smoke season and other natural disasters that might happen. Now, we also have to consider forced and possibly prolonged power outages. This is an interesting new wrinkle, and we want to make sure we have everything that students and staff need to be physically safe on campus. We will be learning more about what happens to each site in a forced power outage and we will always keep student safety at the heart of our decision making. 

We also support healthy life choices. Safety extends from the physical, like smoking and vaping, to the social/emotional, such as anxiety and depression. We have skilled and dedicated counselors, staff, and teachers always observing and intervening. But as you know, these resources alone are not enough. We need every parent, loved one, and neighbor with us keeping an eye on our students. Behaviors that may manifest in our classrooms and schools are also with our students at home, on the field or at the supermarket. 

We are partnering with other experts in our community to help grow stronger together. We will continue to host evening meetings about these important topics and bring in outside experts to serve as a support for parents and families. Please join us. 

Sadly, we also need to be prepared for gun issues that could cross the threshold of our campuses. This issue frightens us all, and it needs everyone’s investment and attention. Gun safety begins at home and parents and others must take the proper and legal steps to secure firearms. The tragedies that have rocked our nation have luckily been a distance away. Luck doesn’t last forever, and to be as safe as possible we all have a job to do. As our police chief said recently, we all have the obligation if we see something to say something. 

We are working with the City of Sonoma, Sonoma County for Valley Interests, and local law enforcement. We have many nonprofit partners who care deeply about the health and well-being of our Valley. By working together and building relationships and strong communication lines we can be strong, and together, when it gets tough. 

 



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