From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
TRUSSVILLE — Hewitt-Trussville Middle School was presented with a major safety award by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall Wednesday, April 17.
HTMS was the recipient of the Attorney General’s Safe Schools Initiative Award for Excellence and was one of only 10 schools in the state to achieve the honor. Schools were selected as winners for 2018 from each of the eight state school board districts, as well as most of the private schools in Alabama.
“In these times, we are all intensely aware of the serious responsibility our schools carry for the safekeeping of our children,” said Marshall. “The Alabama Safe Schools Awards for Excellence is an important tradition of the Attorney General’s Office, to recognize schools throughout our state for dedication and excellence in keeping students safe. With these awards, we honor those who have achieved particularly high standards and set examples that others may follow. We are grateful for their service and commitment to protecting the children of Alabama.”
Marshall presented the award at the middle school auditorium in front of an audience that included students, Mayor Buddy Choat, the Trussville City Council, the school board for Trussville City Schools, Superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill and representatives of Trussville police and fire departments.
Dr. Lisa Berry, principal of HTMS, received the award on behalf of the school.
“I am so appreciative of the Attorney General’s Safe Schools Award for our school, district, and community,” said Berry. “It truly takes teamwork on a daily basis. Our students and staff are our top priority each day, and we work diligently to provide a safe, supportive and academically excellent environment where we not only focus on physical safety but social and emotional safety too. I am very appreciative of the support we receive from our superintendent, Dr. Pattie Neill, our Board of Education, Trussville Police and Fire, our mayor and city council, and our parents.”
Trussville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Pattie Neill was especially proud of the middle school’s achievement and what it meant for the school system as a whole.
“We are so proud of Trussville Middle School, and it is a great day for our whole school district,” said Neill. “Many of the safety measures we use at the middle schools we use at every school. So, the award at the middle school is a testament to the safety in every school; but, I’m most proud of Hewitt-Trussville Middle School for being recognized as one of the top 10 schools in the state for school safety and being recognized by our attorney general.”
Berry shared some of what it takes to ensure the safety of Trussville’s schools.
“(Safety) is always a focus,” said Berry. “I’ve said this many times, but I get up in the morning thinking about school safety, I go to bed at night thinking about school safety. So, we’re always trying to stay in front of any situations; developing relationships with our kids, our kids talk to us, and they let us know when things are out of the ordinary and unexpected. It’s just a constant dialogue. Our teachers get it; our staff gets it. It is teamwork.”
Just as this award recognizes and honors what Hewitt-Trussville Middle School has done in the arena of school safety, it also sets up HTMS as a leader and a beacon for other schools in the state to emulate and to confer with.
“It is great, number one, for this school to be recognized,” said Marshall. “That sends a really wonderful message, not only to the parents of the students here but also the community; that school safety is a priority. What you also want is there to be lots of other shining examples other than Hewitt-Trussville Middle School doing safety well. So that if I’m a superintendent…that says, ‘How can we potentially do school safety better,’ then you would want them to be able to look at a list of those who have received one of the awards to reach out and say, ‘Tell us what you do, how do you work together with public safety and law enforcement, what do you do to engage other non-traditional partners and what is it that is effectively working from a school resource side?’ So, I think what I hope is that Dr. Berry’s phone rings from many people this summer just to pick her brain on what they’re doing here that’s been highlighted as best practices and how we can replicate that in other places.”