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Teacher Creates Task Force To Promote Compassion

A correction has been made to this article from what was printed in the recent print edition of The Express. Mishelle Smith did not aid, help plan, or work with students to organize the walk out that occurred on Wednesday, March 14th.

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In order to increase compassion and good-will on campus, English teacher Mishelle Smith is starting a staff task force for change. The group will focus on activism and safety with the goal of making the campus a safer and more compassionate place for all students.

Smith was inspired to reach out to her co-workers to start the committee after seventeen people were killed in another school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The MSDSH shooting is what is primarily driving the safety component of Smith’s task force.

Our teenagers don’t have the connection that they need to be really healthy and successful,”

— Mishelle Smith

“We’ve been too complacent. Enough is enough. We need to some definitive thing,” said Smith.

“Our teenagers don’t have the connection that they need to be really healthy and successful,” said Smith. In addition to the MSDSH shooting, Smith decided to start her task force for change to address the increase in rates of suicide, depression, and anxiety. This has prompted many teachers to join her in taking action.

“Our teenagers don’t have the connection that they need to be really healthy and successful,” said Smith.

She wants to change that. Smith is already working on a way to bring about more positivity in her classroom. She asked her students to write her a signed, or anonymous, note that could contain something that they want people to “see” about them, and drop it into an envelope in her class.  

In an email to her students, Smith said that, “People who feel seen and loved do better in life, are calmer, feel more empathy for others, feel freer, have more power to create positive change in themselves and others.”

“Our voices are stronger together,” said Smith. She believes more people need to actively pursue change for progress to occur.

Smith’s outlook that students need to be apart of the conversation about safety in school is something that is widely agreed upon throughout the country.

The task force will address issues that teachers and parents can act on to foster change, not only at SJHHS but in society, the country, and potentially the world.

Students across the country are afraid to walk on their campuses. Some parents have resulted to giving their children bulletproof backpacks, or giving them steel or ceramic plates, which are used in bulletproof vests.

The issues that this task force will address are important everywhere, according to Smith. She is starting out at SJHHS, but is also working on branching out to several other high schools in our district.

“I believe we are stronger together and can get more accomplished if we are organized,” said Smith.

By getting her students opinions on what needs to be done, emailing teachers, and helping students increase the amount of compassion on campus, Smith is actively working towards the goals of her taskforce.

Over 12 teachers are already a part of the task force, and it seems that there is a general consensus that change needs to occur. Smith is also looking for appropriate ways to incorporate parents into the task force as well.

According to Smith, there is no single “right” answer to the problem of safety, so the more people who voice their opinions, the better solution the task force will be able to work towards.

Smith notes that the Civil Rights movement for minorities was started because activism was, and still is, the only way to bring about change, and complacency never works toward progress.

While remaining respectful to the school administration, Smith did not ask for permission to start this task force, because there is no need to ask at this point.

The task force aims to promote the understanding of different solutions in order to create open mindedness among the student body.


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