Indian River State College educates future teachers on school security

'Children can't learn and teachers can't teach if they don’t feel safe'
'Future Educators Response To Emergency Situations' training at Indian River State College on June 6, 2022.jpg
Posted at 1:52 PM, Jun 06, 2022

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — As the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, has shown, today’s teachers face challenges their predecessors may never have imagined.

But future teachers are getting a lesson in classroom safety, part of the FERTES program at Indian River State College.

"We work with future teachers so our students end up working in the school systems," said Kelly Amatucci, the dean of Indian River State College's School of Education.

FERTES stands for Future Educators Response to Emergency Situations.

"Children can’t learn and teachers can’t teach if they don’t feel safe," Amatucci said.

The program is the brainchild of Fellsmere police Chief Keith Touchberry and others who felt that after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy in 2018, it was crucial to shift the paradigm for future teachers.

"So that when you graduate from college and get job teaching in public, private, charter school, you will understand that safety and security is your responsibility," Touchberry said.

There are about 300 students currently in IRSC’s School of Education. They’re being taught not only how to identify potential pathways to violence among those kids in their classrooms, but also external threats.

"So if an active shooter were to come, how do you keep your students safe? Where do you move your students? How do you keep your classroom safe from the beginning?" said Emily Renschler, an elementary education instructor at Indian River State College. "Practice how to barricade a door to keep an active intruder out. Then we actually talk about what happens if an active intruder gets in."

The Indian River State College School of Education presented before the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission last fall.

One goal is to bring this training to other colleges around the country that offer teaching degrees.

The next FERTES training classes will be held on campus in November.