Early Childhood Education Department Weighs in on Gun Control

The Early Childhood Education department has put up a display in the basement of the Classroom building, allowing the college community to interact with the discussion of gun violence in schools. This display was conceived from the national debate of arming teachers with firearms, and the twitter retaliation of #ArmMeWith.

“I have always been committed to teaching socially relevant curriculum both to young children and future teachers,” said Professor Sheila Hanna, the Curriculum Chair for Early Childhood Education. “By getting involved with the bulletin board, my hope was that students would see themselves as agents rather than as victims.”

With assistance from Professor Melissa Dreyfus, who had laid down the groundwork for the college, Hanna was able to present the project to the campus. Students and faculty alike have responded to the question of what teachers need rather than firearms but focus has been from the Early Childhood Education Department.

“Because part of our pedagogy is so connected to social justice, even with very young children, how do we foster social justice and embed it in the curriculum,” said Hanna

The discussion of gun reform and the idea of arming teachers with weapons to prevent future active shooter scenarios has spiked after the Parkland school shooting that left 17 dead on Valentine’s Day last February. This board has become the childhood education’s way of keeping that conversation going.

It’s adorned with pictures and tags with handwritten responses of what WCC members believe teachers need in their classrooms more than guns. Responses so far include improving teacher wages, work loads, and how the workforce is treated.

This initiative is tucked away in a place that many students may not cross in their daily routines on campus.  But even if it was placed out in the open, it would still potentially suffer the threat of going unnoticed by an apathetic student body.

In response to the traction that is being made throughout the rest of the country by students in March For Our Lives, and other gun reform activist movements Hanna said, ”I don’t see that here, I see a lot of apathy.” Hanna hoped that the college community as a whole would respond to the national crisis.

Another initiative to inform the community about this issue from another lense was an active shooter training workshop held by the Criminal Justice club with help from the Director of Security, Scott Sullivan. This workshop was open to the public on April 18th in the classroom building to inform the population on what to do in the event of an active shooter.

“In the event of an active shooter, you follow these steps in this order. Run. Hide. Fight,” said Sullivan. Escaping the situation is the top priority and fighting should be held as a last resort.

Sullivan has done several other active shooter response and prevention lectures for college faculty and staff on the main campus as well as on some of the extension sites. There is also online training open to faculty and staff.

Should WCC ever face the threat of an active shooter, security does have an emergency response system to alert the campus via recorded public announcement speakers in each of the buildings. This system is also integrated with the digital displays in the hallways.

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