To download dissertations and theses, please click on the appropriate "Download" button for your campus to log in and be e-verified. When you reach the "Sign into your JWU email" page, enter your JWU username and password.

Non-JWU users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Preparing Teachers for School Tragedy: Reading, Writing, and Lockdown

Jane C Perkins, Johnson & Wales University


Since the Sandy Hook incident, 17 school-associated violent deaths have been reported between December 15, 2012, and November 14, 2013 (Nicoletti, 2012). Five of the seven deadliest school massacres have occurred in the last 15 years (Nicoletti, 2012). Concerns of vulnerability to attacks can detract from a positive school environment (Scheckner et al. 2002). There is a need to understand how confident teachers feel about protecting the safety of their children. If children are dying in our schools, why aren’t active shooter drills treated like fire drills? This mixed method explanatory, sequential design began with a quantitative online questionnaire and assessed the perceptions of crisis preparedness of 307 Rhode Island teachers. Survey data were enhanced using qualitative data gathered from focus groups. Three research questions guided the study: 1) To what extent do RI teachers feel prepared for a major school crisis? 2) Is there a significant relationship between teachers’ preparation for a school crisis and the following demographic variables: grade level taught, years of teaching experience, and urbanicity? 3) What are the teachers’ perceptions of the effectiveness of school emergency drills to enhance preparedness for a school crisis? Perceptions of school crisis preparedness were examined using survey data. ANOVAs indicated that suburban schools reported greater external building security than urban and rural districts (F = 34.75, p = .001). Elementary schools had a greater extent of implementing building access and identification security measures than high schools ( F = 13.28, p = .001). Teachers from suburban and rural districts indicated a greater extent of implementing the access and identification measures (F = 9.98, p = .001) than urban districts. Patterns and themes in the perceptions of emergency preparedness emerged Barriers affecting teachers’ confidence in current safety plans were also identified. Teachers want to be included in the development of a cohesive crisis plan and want frequent, authentic training in order to feel confident about implementing an emergency plan. Implications for collaborative efforts that include school and community involvement could result in a coherent plan development. Strategies to improve communication, plan development, and confidence are discussed.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Elementary education|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Perkins, Jane C, "Preparing Teachers for School Tragedy: Reading, Writing, and Lockdown" (2015). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3705630.