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DEA School Safety Specialist Believes Safe Schools are Happy Schools

Scott Underwood knew from the moment he was asked to be the school safety specialist at Detroit Enterprise Academy (DEA), the role would allow him to make a positive impact on the school. And since then, he’s believed that safe schools are happy schools.

“A safe school is essential for learning to take place,” said Underwood. “For some students, the school may be their only safe space. When students know their school is safe, they are able to relax and open up to learn.”
At DEA, students learn safety through transparency. Underwood shared that everything they do is explained to students in terms they can understand. Teachers are also given resources prior to drills and lockdowns to help debrief students and allow them to ask questions. They’ve also empowered their students with programs like OK2SAY and EDUGUIDE, giving them ways to report situations they’re not comfortable bringing forward in person.

These opportunities drive home the meaningful safety mantra DEA has adopted this year: "If you see something, do something."
Underwood has also been focusing on mental health. He shared that since the beginning of the pandemic, the mental wellbeing of students and staff has been a major concern.

“We have two wonderful social workers as well as community partners that have been working hard to make themselves available to all of our students,” he said. “They have also been visiting classrooms to introduce themselves to the students and explain the services they provide. One of our social workers has also been working with classes on meditation and breathing exercises to reduce stress and anxiety. Our teachers also instruct our students using the Moral Focus curriculum every morning.”
Like many schools, DEA recently celebrated Safe Schools Week, from Oct. 18-22, with a variety of activities:

Monday, Oct. 18 – Scholars participated in coloring pages.

Tuesday, Oct. 19 – Scholars practiced letter writing or creating posters to encourage nurses and doctors who are on the front lines of the pandemic each day. Middle schoolers also participated in an OK2SAY seminar.

Wednesday, Oct. 20 – Students practiced fire safety by creating a home fire plan.

Thursday, Oct. 21 – Students learned about anti-bullying.

Friday, Oct. 22 – Scholars practiced meditating and deep breathing to reduce stress and focus on mental health.