“Everything’s bigger in Texas,” promises a popular saying. Last fall the National School Shield® program witnessed firsthand the truth of that claim during a visit to Jourdanton, Texas.
Located just outside of San Antonio near the center of Atascosa County, Jourdanton is a small, tight-knit community rich in diverse culture and heritage. It provided the perfect setting for the first National School Shield Security Assessor Training in the Lone Star State, hosted thanks to the generous support of The NRA Foundation, Friends of NRA and the Alice Kleberg Reynolds Foundation.
Introduced in December 2012, the NRA’s National School Shield® program focuses on improving school security and helping prevent tragedies at educational institutions in America. It continues to quickly gain traction in many communities across the nation, all working toward a singular mission—to protect our children.
A cornerstone of the National School Shield program is our Security Assessor Training, which seeks to facilitate a partnership between schools and local stakeholders in a shared commitment to more secure schools. At the conclusion of this training, participants are adequately primed to conduct school vulnerability assessments and assist schools in recognizing security strengths as well as potential vulnerabilities.
Those assessments—which provide an all-inclusive approach to analyzing a school’s climate, physical security, communications systems, and overall preparedness—are a proven and effective way to enhance security in schools. With that understanding, officials in Jourdanton eagerly welcomed the opportunity to add this tool to their school security plan.
“It was an honor to host this important training for our community,” said Jourdanton Police Chief Eric Kaiser. “Jourdanton has long been committed to making our schools and our community as safe as possible. To be able to bring this nationally-recognized training to our region at no cost to our community was very rewarding.”
On the first day of training, participants were treated to authentic Texas barbeque, compliments of the Texas Municipal Police Association (TMPA). The TMPA is an organization dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of Texas law enforcement officers. It assisted in ensuring this training was approved by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE), which oversees required continuing education credits for law enforcement officers.
“I enjoyed being able to provide lunch to the officers at this training as a way of saying thanks on behalf of TMPA,” said John Wilkerson, a Field Representative for the North Central/West Texas/Panhandle region. “This is my favorite part about being a TMPA Field Representative: being able to take care of Peace Officers across the state; whether it is instructing courses, supporting them like this while attending trainings, or assisting them during legal situations. At TMPA, we believe in taking care of our members, and would like to thank Chief Kaiser for inviting us in to do so.”
The second day of the training is typically the first opportunity to really walk around the school and begin conducting the school assessment. Our goal is to minimize any disruption to the school day, and oftentimes the students, though aware of our presence, do not really engage with our training participants as they make their way between classes.
But this training was in Texas.
At lunchtime, the school asked if the training participants could come to the library. Upon arrival they were greeted with quite possibly the largest spread possible of all the fixin’s for fajitas, plus various delicious sides and an abundance of sweet treats. Handwritten messages decorated the tables, thanking the law enforcement officers for their service and for taking the time during this particular week to help make their school more secure.
Not only were the students aware of the training, but they were expressively grateful for it. Police Chief Kaiser was presented with a card which he read aloud to the all those gathered. Then, true to the Texas spirit, the students asked if they could pray for the officers.
This training was special because it took place in Jourdanton, Texas, and these students had recently experienced profound tragedy. They knew the importance of coming together to help one another and recognizing others for their service to community. The lunch was offered on behalf of the Madi McCleary Kindness and Compassion Club, in honor of their late classmate. Madi McCleary passed away much too soon with her younger brother Tanner in a tragic car accident earlier last year. The club’s mission is simple—performing random acts of kindness wherever you go.
Thanks to this small community with a big Texas heart, National School Shield now has a starting point from which to grow in the Lone Star State... all while continuing to #spreadkindnessforMandT.