NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Schools across the state are looking for ways to make classrooms safer. A North Little Rock School Safety Task Force will include people who are experts in different fields, including mental health therapy.
Katie Walker has two children in the district, and she is also a mental health therapist.
“Before I even came into private practice, I was actually a school-based therapist in the North Little Rock School District,” Walker said.
Walker joins eight others in the task force committee, according to the school’s website. The goal is to utilize monthly meetings to enhance school safety throughout the district.
“I hope the group of parents will come with various concerns from their child’s school that they’re seeing, and then we can all work together and create a list in tackling those,” Walker said.
Police Chief Patrick Thessing helped develop the task force. In a statement, he said it will achieve some goals set by officers.
“The safety of the students and staff in the North Little Rock School District is one of the top priorities for not only myself, but for all the officers of the North Little Rock Police Department,” Thessing said. “The creation of this task force will provide a comprehensive approach to safety and security for all who work and attend school in the district. I am proud of our partnership with Dr. Pilewski and Chief Finks, and I am honored to be part of this committee as it will only further strengthen our bonds with our North Little Rock family.”
Walker said she has some ideas she hopes to implement quickly.
“Every single teacher in the district, admin, down to secretaries, everyone needs to be trauma trained,” Walker said. “They need to be able to look at every single child and say, ‘This is exactly what part of their brain they’re in. Therefore, I know how to relate to them.”
Walker said as a parent, violence in schools and shooting incidents like the Uvalde massacre gives her concern.
“It’s terrifying dropping my kids off at school every day,” Walker said.
Because Walker relates to fears other parents have, she said she hopes they recognize an ally on the task force and know their kids will be safer as solutions are identified. “I want parents to be able to drop their kids off at school and know that school’s holding their child safely until they’re able to come back and get them,” Walker said.