BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Las Vegas is a place for the lucky, but sometimes you go out there and earn some good fortune.
Fort Madison High School Associate Principal Patrick Lamb is in Vegas this week at a School Safety Convention at the Tropicana and was honored to have been nominated… and then win one of three national school safety awards.
Lamb said he was aware that he had been nominated by School Resource Officer Cory Brown and then got a message in late June that he had won one of the awards.
“Cory informed me in June that he had nominated me and several weeks later I got another message from him that I had been named one of the award winners,” Lamb said.
“It was little bit of surprise at first. It’s very humbling and it’s not something that I do on my own. This is really a collective award. I really need to be giving credit to people that make it possible.”
Lamb credited the staff and administration of Fort Madison Community School District for making the award possible and said it’s more of an award for the district. He just gets the trophy.
“It’s like winning the Manager of the Year award in baseball, you just manage a great program. I’m logistically minded and manage systems well, but Greg Smith the master of culture here,” Lamb said.
“He knows kids and I think that’s why we work so well together. He’s taught me a lot about nurturing and the role that plays in helping kids feel value, welcomed and accepted.”
Lamb, as part of the Associate Principal tasks, is also the security director for the district and has been in that role for the past five years. He took over for Bill Maupin and said the state has increasingly required more and more from schools in terms of security planning.
“They want to know more, as they should, about what your emergency response plan is… how you go about keeping your buildings safe. My role in it has just been to make sure that our administration and staff are versed in what we do in any emergency,” he said.
The district implemented a threat assessment team two years ago that involves members from inside and outside the district to evaluate most information that could be threatening to the students and staff.
The district also implemented an anonymous online and social media reporting system for students to use to let district staff know about any possible situation that could affect a student or building’s safety. That program, called ‘P3’ has been instrumental in the district getting in front of issues before any escalation occurred.
Lamb said the district is currently in the process of digitizing and making things accessible both electronically and physically, but he said culture is the one key component to keeping a safe and welcoming environment at the schools.
“Honestly it’s culture. Are our students welcome? Are they accepted? Are they valued? Are we doing that everyday?” he said.
“When kids walk through the front doors do they feel like they belong. There’s some scary research on stuff like that. I heard one yesterday at the conference – if a student doesn’t hear their name used positively within the first 20 minutes of arriving, the chances of them having a successful day are very low.
He said the high school has three main doors and for the past eight or nine years, staff has been on hand to welcome students in the morning at the main door. Lamb said he would like to be able to greet all students coming in, but logistically that doesn’t always work.
“Even talking to kids and making eye contact is a bridge that you might not otherwise have. And that’s another scary stat, kids that don’t have a positive relationship with at least one staff member in the building have a likelihood of graduating of less than 10%,” Lamb said.
“Everything this award is about is 100% culture. You can drill and have plans in place. You can have a terrific design with what to do in an emergency, but if the culture and trust doesn’t exist it’s never going to work.