“We initiated an advisory program a couple of years ago, and this tool we’re using now … helps support our advisory groups and gives students an outlet to set their own personal goals as well as to identify what their challenges are and how they’re going to overcome those challenges,” she said in an interview on December 5. She said the school also conducts student surveys, and a recent one asked them about “their feeling comfortable in the school and what areas don’t they feel comfortable in. it’s been very beneficial to them to express themselves and for us to respond to their needs. It’s a way for us to be proactive and help students get through things before it’s too late. These days there’s a lot of things that go on with young teens, especially with their access to media. We can protect them only so much here, but they’re exposed outside the school, like getting on ask.com or any of those venues where they feel they can express themselves. We’re trying to get them to understand that this is a safe place, a place where they can plan things out, talk things out.”
She said the program “helps them think things through and start a relationship with adults in their lives at the school, a trusting environment. … At that age, they don’t necessarily trust adults because they’re either worried about getting in trouble or teachers finding out things and maybe looking at them in a different way. We’re trying to avoid students taking the wrong path.”
In general, Maloney said that Newtown “has always been very family-oriented and very trusting. But now there’s more attention paid to little things that may have been taken for granted. We assumed everything was okay when it was not necessarily okay.”
“Our parents are very active in their faith and they’re sending their kids here for the right reasons,” she concluded. “We’re just doing little things and embracing them more and getting them involved in different programs. It’s going to take time. You can’t change a culture in a year.”
An earlier version of this story ran on Nov. 26.
Newtown’s Long Journey
John Burger - published on 12/08/13 - updated on 06/07/17
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