First of its Kind Teacher Led Coalition Launches With a New Approach to Address School Shootings and Other Acts of Violence

A group of teacher leaders and founding partner, National Life Group, today announced the launch of a new coalition to address and prevent school shootings and other acts of violence by providing teachers and all school employees with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to proactively keep schools safe.

The National Coalition for Safe Schools (NCSS) is a first of its kind initiative led by U.S. Varkey Teacher Ambassadors (US VTAs) and other teacher leaders from throughout the United States. The coalitions goal is to develop real-world solutions for both the short and long term that focus on the root of the problem, which begins long before a child ever thinks about bringing a gun to school.

There have been too many shootings and too many lives lost and not enough progress made. In fact, 2018 was one of the most violent school years on record, said Mark Vondracek, a science teacher from Evanston, IL, and U.S. Varkey Teacher Ambassador. Right now, very little attention is directed towards the creation of a proactive approach where mental health services and social emotional learning [SEL] trainings are considered essential to the healthy development of the whole child. As a society, we cannot continue to ignore those needs while in pursuit of academic excellence.

Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, 141 students, teachers and other individuals have been murdered in school shootings and more than 215,000 students in 215 schools have experienced gun violence.

We envision a future where every K-12 school is a safe environment for learning and free from all acts of violence, said Melissa Morris, a music teacher in Staten Island, New York, and a U.S. Varkey Teacher Ambassador. To get there, teachers need to share their voices, needs and ideas and work together to take a lead role in developing a framework that will guide future discussions around the country.


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NCSS will host its inaugural event, a Powered by Teach to Lead Summit on March 1-3 in Birmingham, Alabama, to bring together a group of highly accomplished ground-level K-12 educators and ˜critical friends selected from a national pool of applicants who will seek to answer these guiding questions:

  1. Why are some students so angry?
  2. Why do some of those students resort to acts of violence?
  3. How do we go about reimagining a safe school for all learners?
  4. How does Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) play a role in safe schools?
  5. What professional learning experiences guide the change for reimagining safe schools?
  6. What policies and/or partnerships need to be made in order for this work to continue?

This new coalition is far from alone in posing such questions and we understand that. We signed on to help push this coalition forward because of who is seeking to answer the questions: Teachers themselves, said Mehran Assadi, Chairman, CEO and President of National Life. They are the people who understand many of the core issues. They are the adults that we send our kids off to each and every day. We believe that working together, they can begin to get at the root causes for this epidemic with our kids and leave the politics at the school house door.

The coalition is open to any individual, organization or business interested in advancing its mission and achieving its vision. Funding and in-kind support for NCSS and the National Summit on School Safety is provided by National Life Group and LifeChanger of the Year, with additional support from Teach To Lead and the Varkey Foundation.

For more information on NCSS and the National Summit on School Safety, go to

About the National Coalition for Safe Schools (NCSS)

The National Coalition for Safe Schools (NCSS) is a growing national movement founded by U.S. Varkey Teacher Ambassadors (US VTAs) and other teacher leaders from throughout the United States who are committed to ensuring schools are safe and healthy places for students to learn and teachers to work. The Coalition is open to any individual, organization or business interested in advancing its mission and achieving its vision.

Ross Sneyd, corporate communications, National Life Group, 802.229.3866