From the Desk of the Head of School- March 31, 2023
Dear Harding Academy Learning Community,
We have completed what feels like one of the longest weeks of our lives. As parents of four students at Harding Academy, Mackenzie and I have been sitting up at night wondering, considering, planning, debating. I imagine you all have been doing much the same. It’s exhausting. As I think about adding the layer for our faculty to be in the classrooms with my children - being strong, caring, nurturing, brave - I am incredibly grateful, proud and tired for them. I have heard from so many of you that you have similar feelings and I know the faculty appreciate your notes and gestures to that effect.
This weekend and next week will also be difficult. Visitations and celebrations of lives of the victims of the shooting at Covenant will further drain us emotionally and physically. I am certain it will unify us in our desire and ability to support the Covenant community and to rally to each other’s side, but it will come at a cost. Our teachers will be here for our children - they always are, but that has meant they often push aside their own needs for self care and family check ins. As you can imagine it is an excruciating choice and it has taken its toll. In an effort to help our faculty recover without the weight of that choice, I am calling a day off on Monday, April 10. This will create a four day weekend, coming on the other end of the weekend from Good Friday. I am sure you all might welcome the time to huddle up with family.
However, the work of keeping our most precious people safe continues. As I said earlier this week when I outlined all the security steps we have taken up to this point, we have been analyzing the tragedy at Covenant this week and have been stress testing our infrastructure, systems, and staffing. Below you will find additional steps we have taken or will have completed prior to the start of the 2023-24 school year.
Starting yesterday, we have extra police presence from off duty Metro police on campus through the end of pursuit, practices or events. This will continue through the end of the school year.
We have begun the process of hiring TWO additional armed security personnel who will work for Lt. Chuck Carter in the newly constituted Department of Security for Harding Academy. We hope to have them in place this spring. Between these three security personnel, we will have campus and our HWY 70 complex covered from first arrival to well past last departure.
Since the summer of 2021, we have been applying bulletproof laminate to ground level entrances and windows. We had already booked our vendor for the summer of 2023 and by that point, we will have ALL ground level windows and doors covered, in addition to ALL interior door windows.
We will be enhancing the number, capacity, and capabilities of our Avigilon security camera system to provide both more comprehensive coverage as well as enhanced notification capabilities.
For obvious reasons, the totality of our security plan and strategy is something we are careful to broadcast. However, I want you to know that we are working diligently to provide as secure a campus as possible while maintaining the family feel that attracted us all to Harding in the first place.