by Jill Jenkins
For all those designing schools to maximize student safety, while placing a safety portal with school offices and resource police at the front of the building is a great start, there is more to think about. Preventing a child from becoming a maniac murdering his peers should be goal number one. Schools need to be pleasant places, not prisons. Providing students with a clean, well ventilated, well lit and brightly colored space will help create a lively, healthy environment. For all students school is a home away from home and each student needs to feel like an appreciated member of the community. Remember students are malodorous, messy creatures, so use building materials that are easy to clean. Don't put carpet on the walls. Use insulation in the walls to dampen sound from room to room. Provide colorful display areas to show students work and display happy pictures of the students in the school. Designing safe school building is only part of the answer.
The school atmosphere is important. Keeping the school clean and well lit will improve health and moral for the teachers and the students, but encouraging teachers to work together and find ways to recognize students' achievement will make students feel more loved and appreciated. Even as another school shooting occurred today in Texas, think about ways of preventing others by using training teachers to identify behavior or signs that a student is troubled. Observing changes in student behavior and referring student to social workers, counseling staff or school psychologists can prevent depression from escalating into disasters. Changing our focus on making all students feel safe, appreciated and loved is a good start. Schools do not have to stink. Instead make them smell like school spirit and make every student's education a positive one.