Teach Coalition’s End-of-the-Year #Gratitude4Guards Campaign Rallies Children, Parents, and School Officials to Show Their Thanks
From New York and New Jersey to Pennsylvania, Florida, and beyond, more than 500 Jewish day school children, parents, and school staff are ending the school year by offering unique shows of gratitude for their schools’ security guards by bringing them hand-made cards, doughnuts, coffee, and an abundance of “high-fives” as part of Teach Coalition’s first-ever #Gratitude4Guards campaign.
“Regardless of the weather, security threat, or any other circumstance, security guards keep our children safe and secure,” said Dan Mitzner, chief operating officer and director of government affairs for Teach Coalition, a national education advocacy group and project of the Orthodox Union. “They make it possible for students, teachers, and all school staff to function knowing they are safe from violence and threats.”
During the two-week campaign that began on June 6, students, parents and school officials thanked their schools’ guards and broadcast their appreciation by posting messages and pictures of their efforts with the hashtag #Gratitude4Guards on the social media channels of schools, families, and Teach Coalition.
At The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, a group of seniors, accompanied by the Esses family, who help lead Teach NJ, Teach Coalition’s New Jersey division, provided doughnuts and coffee to the school’s two security guards. The guards, in turn, thanked the students profusely and noted that, year-round, the students go out of their way to thank them and show their respect to them.
At Bais Yaakov Ateres Miriam in Far Rockaway, New York, a fourth-grade class gave guards hand-written cards and signs. A message from a second-grade teacher stated: “When I told my students we’d be writing thank-you cards to our security team, they immediately began sharing all the ways you help, from taking us on field trips, greeting us outside each morning no matter what the weather, monitoring who enters our building, working long days and more. Know that we see you and appreciate what you do.”
Zalman Myer-Smith, director of the Jewish Community Security Organization and statewide security director for Chabad in Florida, noted that fostering strong relationships between the guards, students, staff, and parents is an important part of a successful security program.
“When school stakeholders invest in the guards and the guards feel appreciated, their commitment is stronger,” Myer-Smith said. “Being respected and part of something bigger than their department makes the difference.”
Teach Coalition has long fought to improve school security nationwide, including successfully championing state-level security funding programs. Since 2013, Teach Coalition’s divisions nationwide – such as Teach NYS, Teach NJ, Teach PA, and Teach Florida – have fought for the successful creation of school security programs for their states.
On a federal level, the Orthodox Union’s Advocacy Center has successfully worked with the US Congress to create the Nonprofit Security Grant Program and press annually to increase its funding. Through the program, the Department of Homeland Security has allocated a total of $849 million in security grants to synagogues, day schools, other houses of worship and other nonprofits at risk of terror attacks since 2005.
The following schools participated in the #Gratitude4Guards campaign:
Ben Porat Yosef
Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School
Rabbi Pesach Raymond Yeshiva
Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
Tenafly Chabad Academy
The Hebrew Academy
The Idea School
The Moriah School
Torah Academy of Bergen County
Bais Yaakov Ateres Miriam
HAFTR Lower School
Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns & Rockaway Lower School
Manhattan Day School
Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy
Shulamith School for Girls
Torah Academy for Girls in Far Rockaway
Westchester Day School
Yeshiva of Central Queens
Yeshiva of South Shore
Brauser Maimonides Academy
Hebrew Academy Miami
Katz Hillel Day School
Ohr HaTorah Yeshiva High School
Shaarei Bina Torah Academy for Girls
Torah Academy of Boca Raton
Yeshiva Toras Chaim Toras Emes
Abrams Hebrew Academy
Morris and Rose Caskey Torah Academy Cheder Chabad
Kohelet, Kohelet Yeshiva Lab and Middle School
Kohelet Yeshiva High School
The Mesivta High School of Greater Philadelphia
Politz Hebrew Academy
Scranton Hebrew Day School
The Silver Academy