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Supporting and Nurturing Every Student

March 22nd, 2019

Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Superintendent Michael J. Martirano today issued the below statement, following the March 15 terrorist attacks in New Zealand:

Today I met with leaders of the local Dar Al-Taqwa Islamic center to review the supports we have in place for all students, including those who are Muslim. Last week’s tragic episode in New Zealand prompted us to meet and share assurances that every Muslim student and staff member is a cherished member of our HCPSS community. We pledged to strengthen our collaboration in working to ensure that each school and neighborhood remain a safe and welcoming place for all.

I am honored by the Dar Al-Taqwa leaders’ invitation to speak to their entire community about school system policies, programs and resources, and our shared commitment to nurture and protect every student, regardless of culture, birthplace or faith.

I continue to be haunted by the horrific event that unfolded across the globe, which reveals hatred on a scope that is nearly unthinkable, but re-emphasizes the need to safeguard the values and protections that we all hold dear. Inclusion and acceptance have long been Howard County hallmarks, and our school system reflects the values of our larger community. As we embrace each of our 59,000 children, we realize that the members of our Muslim community are especially hurting, and we must continue to take special care to offer comfort and support to help them heal and feel safe.

Children can be especially traumatized by episodes of such violence and cruelty that even adults struggle to process. I urge parents and caregivers to talk with your children about what they may be thinking and feeling, and remind them that dedicated staff members are ready to support them at any time during the school day. Our website offers resources that can help you with these difficult conversations.

Thank you for all that you do in providing for your own children and helping to ensure that all others in our schools and community are equally supported and nurtured.