Almost two years have passed now since the morning I packed up my three daughters and sent them off for another day of school in Newtown, Connecticut. Only two were returned to me at the end of that day, December 14, 2012. My youngest daughter, Josephine, was killed in her first grade classroom only moments after I dropped her off at the front door and into the loving arms of one of her teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Since the long, desperate hours we spent that day, waiting to receive the words that would forever change our lives, we’ve learned that she has never really left us. As a family of deep faith—and with the support of family, friends, and others near and far—we have discovered in many ways, how our daughter lives on in this world.
She has called us—all of us—to do better by our children. We cannot take back the choices of the man who attacked and killed Joey, and 25 of her beloved friends and teachers at school that day. Nor can we take back the mistakes and blatant inactions of so many that allowed his profound mental illness to fester to the point of such unprecedented tragedy. But we can, at least, do better by our surviving children and our school communities.
To do better, I joined Alissa Parker, Emilie’s mom, to work for safer schools in America. We founded Safe and Sound in honor of our little girls, dear friends. We dedicated our foundation to educating and empowering school communities, parents, students, teachers, administrators, emergency responders, and mental health professionals to make our schools safer—together.
Safe and Sound is a hub of free school safety resources designed to help guide communities across the country as they too look to “do better” for the precious people who come to grow, learn, and teach in school every day. With a panel of national school safety professionals, we develop and collect best-practice materials and resources. We travel the country visiting, speaking, and teaching in school communities and for professional organizations about school safety.
And in this work we’ve learned a great deal. Though, perhaps nothing more important than this fact: We—parents, educators, leaders, and community members—are not powerless in keeping our children safe in school.
We invite you to join us in honor of the precious children in your life. Visit us often to find a growing wealth of information and experience to help you work for safer schools in your community. Check out our free, printable toolkits, designed to facilitate initiatives in your own school community. Support our mission for safer schools. It’s time to get to work together for safer schools today.