Educators met at Flaget Center for safety symposium

Karen McCuiston, a representative of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, advised teachers against connecting to students on Facebook. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

Karen McCuiston, a representative of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, advised teachers against connecting to students on Facebook. (Record Photo by Jessica Able)

By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer

Educators from Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville and others from non-public schools around the state learned about social media safety during a symposium at the Flaget Center March 15.

Karen McCuiston, a representative of the Kentucky Center for School Safety, delivered the day’s keynote address titled “The Social ‘Me’ in Social Media: Tips to Stay Safe.”

McCuiston was the public relations officer for McCracken County Public Schools when a student opened fire in 1997 at Heath High School in West Paducah, Ky., killing three and injuring five more.

She now works to promote school safety and serves as the director of the resource center at the Kentucky Center for School Safety.

At the safety symposium last week, McCuiston presented tips to teachers and administrators about how to address social media safety with parents and students. She also discussed steps educators should take to keep a professional distance on social media.

In a high energy presentation, McCuiston told her audience they should be mindful of how they use social media.

She presented basic tips, such as learning about the privacy settings on various social media apps and told the educators to always log out of these platforms when not in use.

“You need to be smart about your settings,” she said. “Don’t have Facebook if you don’t understand how to use it.”

She advised teachers against becoming Facebook friends of current students and their parents. Connecting via social media should be off limits until there is no longer a student/teacher relationship, she said.

McCuiston also urged educators to stay current on social media trends and recommended they review commonsense.org, a site that explains popular social media apps (as well as other media) in short videos.

During an interview following her presentation, McCuiston called teachers “stormtroopers” and said that responsible use of social media must be discussed at school and in the home.

“It takes teachers, parents and students working together to get students started in the right direction,” she said.

Attendees also attended breakout sessions that explored a variety of topics, such as building safety, personal safety, parent aggression, bullying and drug abuse.

To learn more and for free resources, visit kycss.org.

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