February 15, 2018
In light of the tragic events in Florida on Wednesday, my letter this month will focus on how we perpetually train in crisis management, as any good school must do. Last week, we held a practice emergency lock-down drill. Practicing and preparing for what we hope will never happen helps us to support your children, keep them safe, and allow them the latitude that is appropriate to adolescence. These goals do not always go together so easily, but we have worked to have systems in place that proactively provide safety, are prepared to react when needed, and allow our students and your children to have an appropriate range of freedom.
While many of our safety systems are obvious - fire alarms, sprinkler system, regular state mandated fire drills - many are appropriately not obvious. I think it worth noting some of them. Technology has been a great aid to the work of communicating and connecting with groups, particular during stressful moments. We have an emergency communication system that is dynamic, utilizes a number of mediums - email, text, and public address - and that we test. You should have received a message earlier in the school year about this. If you didn’t or aren’t sure if you did, please let me know and I will check.
We also have, aside from the attentive faculty, a host of people on campus positioned to provide security. Our security office is staffed twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, all year long by a highly trained group. Robert Cizauskas, Director of Campus Safety, was a Lieutenant in the Waterbury Police Department and Ray Alenckis, Assistant Director of Campus Security was a Detective Sergeant in the Waterbury Police Department. They direct a very capable group of mostly previous law enforcement officers with experience handling real life emergency situations. Our campus safety office is, by design, at the center of Taft’s campus and our safety officers are well connected with all members of the Taft community.
Taft has always had a strong connection with the Watertown emergency response teams - fire and police - and these groups are aware of our practices on campus and are often on campus for a variety of activities.
Trust is an important part of how Taft works and your entrusting your children’s education and well-being to us is both an honor and a responsibility. If you have questions or feedback about how we do this work, please do let me know. I am looking forward to seeing many of you tomorrow at Parents' Weekend and in the days to come.