Safety—What’s behind the “Be Safe” pillar of The Eagle Way

In nearly every classroom and/or hallway at Greenwood, a laminated poster titled “The EAGLE WAY” is displayed as a reminder to students, faculty, and staff to uphold the four pillars of what makes us successful as a Team: Be Respectful; Be Responsible; Be Your Best; and, Be Safe.

Safety is on everyone’s mind rather often, particularly with the tragic events that have occurred in the downtown Jacksonville area over the past several weekends. This week, students may be mentioning things at home about drills that we are conducting this week at school—so I thought I would take a moment to describe what “Be Safe” means here at Greenwood School.

When it comes to individuals’ perceptions of their own safety and the safety of the group in which they are participating, it is readily apparent that a variety of factors vary in importance to each individual (this was actually the premise of my dissertation work last year as well)—predominantly, our student demographic, their families, and our faculty and staff tend to be more focused on the daily school climate and interpersonal interactions as more important to their ability to feel safe—in other schools, as you’ve perhaps seen in recent news from the public school district offices, physical security measures take priority. At Greenwood, we take the same approach to safety as we take with academic and extra-curricular programs by balancing all safety factors as carefully as possible to maximize each individual’s opportunities to be successful.

In last year’s Parent Survey, 100% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed on all four safety-related rating items that the Greenwood campus is a physically and emotionally safe environment; the alumni and faculty groups overwhelmingly agreed. This is a metric that I am proud of, but not willing to rest upon; anything that we are good at doing can always improve to great!

Because of the relationship-based philosophy of education that is the basis for Greenwood’s existence, the physical characteristics of our campus location, the resources that are available to us, and the emphasis upon training for faculty and staff, I am confident in telling everyone that we enjoy a highly positive, supportive, and physically secure school environments, and I am dedicated to consistently sustaining and improving that fact.

Greenwood faculty and staff are well-trained in crisis response, including First Aid/CPR/AED (we have three times as many certified staff than the law requires). This week we will be conducting our first fire drill of the school year, walking through procedures to ensure everyone understands—particularly students and staff who are new to us. We will also walk through the procedures for sheltering in place for destructive weather (even though we are typically not in school when such weather is approaching). Finally, we will discuss with students our security lockdown procedures, which will include opportunities for students to ask any questions they may have. During the weather drill and the security drill, we  will also test the School’s emergency communications system—so parents and guardians will be receiving an email and text message about the event (it will be prefaced by the words “DRILL ONLY”) so that all will be aware of the process that would occur in the event of a real emergency.

As always, if you have any questions about policies and procedures, please don’t hesitate to ask me to clarify or explain—thank you all for partnering together to make “The EAGLE WAY” successful!

Dr. Anthony D. Mortimer

Head of School

The following list is a sampling of the references and research that influenced and contributed to the various safety policies and procedures (including student discipline processes) at Greenwood:

Abkowitz, M. D. (2008). Operational risk management: A case study approach to effective planning and response.

Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Atwater, J. (2014). Florida fire prevention code (5th ed.). Vista, CA: BNi Publications.

Bronfenbrenner, U., & Morris, P. A. (2006). The bioecological model of human development. In W. Damon & R. M.

Lerner (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology, vol. 1: Theoretical models of human development (6th ed., p. 793-828). New York, NY: John Wiley.

Campbell, R. (2017). Structure fires in educational properties. Quincy, MA: National Fire Prevention Association.

Center for Education & Employment Law. (2016). Keeping your school safe & secure: A practical guide (10th ed.).

Malvern, PA: Center for Education & Employment Law.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). (2010, July 02). Operational risk management. OPNAV instruction 3500.39C.

Washington, DC: Department of the Navy.

Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI). (2013). Safe schools: A best practices guide.

Washington, DC: Association for Learning Environments.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, Title I, Part D, 34 C. F. R., s. 200 (2016).

Florida School Choice. (n.d.). Detailed requirements for private schools. Retrieved from

Gregg, R. (2013). The duty and culture of care. Independent School, 72(3), 72-76.

Hammons, C. (2008). Fifty educational markets: A playbook of state laws and regulations governing private

schools. Indianapolis, IN: Friedman Foundation.

Heinrichs, R. R. (2003). A whole-school approach to bullying: Special considerations for children with

exceptionalities. Intervention in School & Clinic, 38(4), 195-204.

Hernandez, D. D., Floden, L., & Bosworth, K. (2010). How safe is a school? An exploratory study comparing

measures and perceptions of safety. Journal of School Violence, 9(4), 357-374. doi:10.1080/15388220.2010.508133

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1975, 20 U. S. C., ss. 1400-1401 (2015).

Kueny, M. M., & Zirkel, P. P. (2012). An analysis of school anti-bullying laws in the United States. Middle School

Journal, 43(4), 22-31. doi:10.1080/00940771.2015.11461817

Mortimer, A. D. (2018). Priorities for school safety: The alignment between federal and state school safety

legislation and safety needs as perceived by education stakeholders in Florida private schools for exceptional students (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from

Nassar-McMillan, C., Karvonen, M., Oerez, T. & Abrams, L. (2009). Identity development and school climate: The

role of the school counselor. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education, and Development, 48(2), 195-214. doi:10.1002/j.2161-1939.2009.tb00078.x

National School Climate Center. (2016). The 12 dimensions of school climate measured. Retrieved from

Occupational Safety and Health Standards, 29 C. F. R., ss. 1900-1910 (1996).

Ortiz, H. R., Dorris, D., & Schindler, K. (2011). Educational facilities vulnerability hazard assessment checklist.

Washington, DC: American Clearinghouse on Educational Facilities.

Perumean-Chanely, S. E., & Sutton, L. M. (2013). Students and perceived school safety: The impact of school

security measures. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(4), 570-588. doi:10.1007/s12103-012-9182-2

Sulkowski, M. L., & Lazarus, P. J. (2017). Creating safe and supported schools and fostering students’ mental health.

New York, NY: Routledge.

United States Department of Defense, Defense Security Service. (2013). Anti-terrorism officer, level II (Certification

course GS109.16). Washington, DC: Defense Security Service.

United States Department of Education, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. (1995). Guidance concerning state

and local responsibilities under the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994. Retrieved from

United States Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Safe and Healthy

Students (2013). Guide for developing high-quality school emergency operations plans, Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Administration.

United States Marine Corps Institute. (2002). Operational risk management. Washington, DC: Headquarters,

United States Marine Corps.