Safety in our schools: Fulton Independent

FULTON, KY — Daniel Farmer is decorating his classroom and gearing up for his sixth year of teaching in the Fulton Independent School District.

“I love the people I work with. Our administration does a really good job of putting us in positions to succeed. I don’t think I’ll leave for a while,” Farmer said.

He said part of fostering a good learning environment is building relationships with students.

“I think connections are something that all teachers strive to do with any of our kids or athletes, whichever one you work with. I think that’s probably one of the most important parts about getting kids to grow and learn is with that connection that you have with them,” Farmer said.

It’s those connections that Farmer said he had to use to help comfort students when a rampage school shooting devastated a neighboring community.

“It was kind of surreal, especially for my athletes that played. I think they were very uncomfortable. We actually had people here that had nephews and cousins that went to school there. They were really upset. It was the same kind of thing with Heath, I never thought it would happen,” Farmer said, recalling the Heath High School shooting in McCracken County in 1997.

Happening so close to home, administrators at Fulton Independent are tasked with upping security to better protect the district’s 340 students.

Beda, the school’s dog, can’t be everywhere in the school building to see what’s going on.

That’s why superintendent DeAnne Miller said they’ve added more cameras, so there are no blind spots. That’s not the only change they’re making.

We do have safety teams at both school buildings that involve teachers, parents and local responders. We are doing daily backpack checks, bag checks — purses, sports bags, backpacks — for every student every day this year. We have new cameras. All of our outside doors are numbered, so that if there was an emergency, we could tell the local responders what door they need to come in, in order to get to the emergency at a quicker rate,” Miller said.

Miller said, beyond those measures, the children’s safety comes back to the key relationships teachers and students build every day.

“If you have a strong relationship with a student, you’re going to be able to tell if they’re having a bad day or if something is troubling them, and that’s a great opportunity to have a conversation with them or recommend that they visit the guidance counselor or community mental health counselor that’s here in our building on a daily basis,” Miller said.

Farmer said he’ll do everything he can to help ease students’ worries and reassure them that school is still a safe place.

“I think once they get here and realize all the steps we are taking to make this a safe place, I think that will make them feel a lot less nervous,” Farmer said.

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