A Sandy Hook Initiative for Safer Schools

Keynotes & Workshops

School Safety: A Parent’s Perspective

Presented by Michele Gay or Alissa Parker
Alissa and Michele tell their personal stories and recount the lessons they each learned on December 14, 2012 and in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook School tragedy.   The mothers share the inspiring way they have each chosen to help school communities improve school safety in honor of their daughters, Emilie and Josephine, and in memory of the other 18 children and 6 teachers lost on December 14, 2012. This parent’s perspective provides unique insight and inspiration for parents, administrators, school staff, emergency responders and community members who strive to make their schools safer.

Beyond Tragedy: Response and Recovery Following a School-Based Crisis

Presented by Michele Gay or Alissa Parker
This presentation is a personal perspective on the Sandy Hook School response and recovery efforts, as told by Safe and Sound Co-Founders, Alissa Parker and Michele Gay. Based on the mothers’ own experiences, those of victims, survivors, first responders, community leaders, educators, families, and children in the Sandy Hook and Newtown community, the challenges, successes, and lessons learned in the aftermath of tragedy and loss are revealed to better prepare other school communities to respond and recover from emergencies, crisis, and disaster. Alissa and Michele share insights on emergency notification, communication, death notification, protection of victims and victims’ families, mental health needs and services, media management, and financial considerations, as well as other issues surrounding the response and recovery efforts within Sandy Hook and Newtown.

Leadership Lessons from Columbine and Beyond

Presented by Frank DeAngelis
The tragedy at Columbine redefined the nation. Frank DeAngelis shares his personal story from the events through the aftermath. This presentation reveals the leadership lessons he learned in the focus of an international firestorm. Frank’s honest, straight-forward account provides invaluable insights into managing the after-crisis with students, staff members, community members and never ending media attention. A positive attitude and a passion for his job, allowed him to work at Columbine from 1979 to 2014. He shares how he was able to build a community that worked together for his kids; the students at Columbine High School. The take-aways from this presentation should be required reading for every leader in the nation.   Frank retired in June of 2014 after spending 35 years at Columbine High School.

Reunification at Sandy Hook: Reuniting Families In the Aftermath of a School Crisis

Presented by Michele Gay 

Michele Gay shares personal experiences and professional perspective on reunifying a school community in the aftermath of crisis. As an educator and Sandy Hook parent, Michele shares lessons learned and examines current reunification practices, models, and resources to better prepare attendees for reunification planning and implementation in their school communities.



Strategies for Preventing School Violence and Bullying Abuse In Schools Understanding and Preventing Bullying Abuse

Presented by Amanda Nickerson, Ph.D., NCSP
Dr. Amanda Nickerson presents the myriad issues and presentations of bullying in today’s schools and explores their impact upon students’ learning and sense of safety in school today.  She shares practical solutions, interventions, and strategies, and resources for identifying and combating these challenges to promote a safe school climate.

Other Keynotes:
Our speaking team keynotes on a variety of other topics related to safety, violence prevention, and mental health.  Please inquire if you are interested in a specific topic.

Addressing Mental Health Needs in the Schools

Presenter: Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., NCSP
This workshop discusses the impact of mental health on academic achievement and social-emotional functioning. Participants will learn the developmental indicators of mental health challenges and identify the barriers that schools face in addressing mental health needs. Strategies to implement proactive and universal approaches to addressing mental health needs and interventions to promote skill building will be discussed. In addition, how schools can provide intensive supports and utilize community services to supplement school-based services and programs will be reviewed.

Bullying and Suicide: Keys to Prevention and Resiliency

Presenter: Scott Poland, Ed.D.
Bullying in schools is a national issue and a number of media reports have attributed youth suicide to victimization. This presentation will help school personnel and community agencies develop comprehensive suicide and bullying prevention programs. Participants will learn effective strategies to build resiliency for children in today’s world. Participants will learn to identify protective and resiliency factors for school age youth; develop a comprehensive best practices model for suicide prevention, plan for intervention and postvention in the school and community, explore best practices for bullying prevention and the complex relationship between bullying and suicide.

A Collaborative Approach to School Safety
Presenter:  Michele Gay
Michele shares Safe and Sound’s mission and model for a Collaborative Approach to School Safety.  This presentation is aimed at a multi-disciplinary audience of educators, administrators, school resource officers, mental health professionals and school staff, as well as parent, student, and community representatives. Michele will share tools, resources, and programs aimed at bringing all stakeholders in the school community together for a holistic and comprehensive approach to school safety.
Cultivating a Healthy Workplace Environment

Presenter: Scarlett Lewis
Based on the science and research behind successful “Social and Emotional Learning” programs, Scarlett provides adults in the corporate world the same tools that support and promote healthy interaction, cultivate happiness and enable employees to have healthy perspective without being distracted by negativity. The program provides the support and tools for heightened self-awareness and understanding the opportunity to take personal responsibility for one’s actions and reactions to peers, supervisors, and others in the workplace.

Developmentally Appropriate Safety Education

Presenter: Michele Gay, M.Ed.
Michele addresses one of the most pressing and timely concerns school communities face today: developing and delivering safety curricula and training with respect to the unique needs of students and staff of all ages, abilities, and educational levels. Using the Safe and Sound model for teaching and training, Michele empowers staff to determine objectives and activities for developmentally appropriate and psychologically safe education and training in the K-12 school setting.

Engaging the Community: Tools and Ideas for Safer Schools

Presenter: Michele Gay, M.Ed.
Michele offers presentation and discussion of the Safe and Sound model, toolkits, and tools according to the needs of the attendees. Michele’s sessions can be tailored to specific and various school safety stakeholders or delivered to a mixed group, shared in a seminar format or in a hands-on workshop or breakout style. As an active member of the school safety community, Michele is prepared to share expert resources and discuss many of the programs and interventions available to communities striving to improve school safety.

Non-Suicidal Self Injury: Critical Issues

Presenter: Scott Poland, Ed.D.
School personnel and community agencies are increasingly faced with referrals of students who are engaging in self-injury most commonly referred to as NSSI (Non-Suicidal Self Injury). Self-injury by students, with cutting being the most common, often catches school personnel, parents and community personnel by surprise. This training will provide practical guidelines for detecting this behavior, intervening to support the student and family, assessing suicidal risk of the student, the school’s role in intervention, and understanding the relationship between self-injury and suicide.  Other important factors that will be covered are major theories of self-injury, the self-injurer today, self-injury versus self-mutilation, legal issues and recommendations.

Parenting in a Challenging World

Presenter: Scott Poland, Ed.D.
Children today live in a very fast paced world and are exposed to many things at an early age. Dr. Poland has over 30 years’ experience working with children and schools on a daily basis and in the aftermath of many tragedies, including Columbine. Parents need training and support to build resiliency in their children for times of challenge and hardship in childhood. This presentation will help parents recognize at-risk behaviors and bully behaviors in their own children and others, and will include practical examples of parenting children of all ages. Participants will learn how to recognize and reduce bully behaviors and how to best support children targeted by bullying.

PREPaRE Workshop #1: Prevention and Preparedness: Comprehensive School Safety Planning (2nd Edition)

Presenters: Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., NCSP and/or Amanda Nickerson, Ph.D., NCSP
In this newly updated workshop, participants will learn how to establish and sustain comprehensive school safety and crisis prevention and preparedness efforts. With updated research and strategies, this workshop makes a clearer connection between ongoing school safety and crisis preparedness. It also emphasizes the unique needs and functions of school teams and the steps involved in developing these teams, including a model that integrates school personnel and community provider roles. The PREPaRE model builds on existing personnel, resources and programs, and can be adapted to individual school needs and size. Finally, the workshop explores how to prepare for school crises by developing, exercising, and evaluating safety and crisis plans. This workshop is an excellent course for mental health and educational professionals working at all grade levels in your district that help establish a safe school climate and respond to crises.

PREPaRE Workshop #2: Crisis Intervention and Recovery: The Roles of School-Based Mental Health Professionals (2nd Edition)

Presenters: Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., NCSP and/or Amanda Nickerson, Ph.D., NCSP
This 2-day workshop provides school-based mental health professionals and other school crisis intervention team members with the knowledge necessary to meet the mental health needs of students and staff following a school-associated crisis event. With updated research and crisis intervention strategies, this workshop teaches participants how to prevent and prepare for psychological trauma, reaffirm both the physical health of members of the school community and students’ perceptions that they are safe and secure, evaluate the degree of psychological trauma, respond to the psychological needs of members of the school community, and examine the effectiveness of school crisis intervention and recovery efforts. This workshop is an excellent course for all mental health professionals in your district who provide mental health crisis intervention services.

Promoting Social-Emotional Strengths Through Assessment and Intervention

Presenter: Amanda Nickerson, Ph.D., NCSP
As part of a balanced, comprehensive understanding of children’s mental health, it is important to not only examine the problems that interfere with functioning, but also to assess and build upon social-emotional strengths. Social-emotional skills create a sense of accomplishment, contribute to satisfying relationships, enhance the ability to cope with stress, and promote social and academic development. Dr. Nickerson presents advantages of focusing on social-emotional strengths, an overview of strength-based assessment measures, and approaches to developing these strengths at the individual, small group, and school-wide levels.

Psychological Safety: How Can We Help? - The M-PHAT Approach

Presenter: Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., NCSP
The M-PHAT approach involves a Multi-Phase, Multi-Hazards, Multi-Agency, and a Multi-Tiered approach to establishing a comprehensive plan for a safe schools environment that aligns with current response to intervention and positive behavior supports initiatives. This session focuses on development of school and district safety and crisis teams and plans; understanding the different components to a comprehensive school safety plan vs. a crisis plan; conducting psychological and physical safety assessments, and establishing a data collection system to enable data-driven decisions.

Recovering from a Crisis at School: Lessons Learned From the Front Lines to Help Students and Schools in the Aftermath of Tragedy

Presenter: Scott Poland, Ed.D.
The incidence of accidental, homicidal and suicidal deaths of students requires that schools and communities be prepared to respond to these tragic events and manage emotionality. Many schools are faced with the death of a student or a staff member. This training will help school personnel, and community agencies:

•  develop and enhance their ability to respond to critical incidents
•  provide students and staff with the assistance and support needed
•  understand and respond to the complicated issue of memorialization and what is appropriate at school

Reunification for the School Community

Presenter: Michele Gay, M.Ed.Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., NCSP
Michele and Melissa share personal and professional experiences in school-based reunification, examine best practices and current reunification models, and conduct scenario-based, table-top exercises to prepare participants for successful reunification planning and preparation.

School-Based Crisis Prevention and Intervention

Presenter: Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., NCSP
This advanced level workshop will assist you in enhancing the crisis procedures already in place in your school district. Specifically, learn cutting-edge tips on conducting crisis exercises and drills in the school setting. In addition, strategies for using social media, dealing with the press, and planning memorials will be offered. The legal ramifications of crisis response and the spiritual dimensions in the aftermath of a crisis also will be highlighted.

School Crisis and Liability

Presenter: Scott Poland, Ed.D.
Practitioners in the schools–including administrators, support personnel, and teachers–face a myriad of complex issues when a crisis occurs, exposing them to potential criticism and legal liability. This training reviews cases where school personnel have been sued over issues such as failure to obtain parental consent before telling students the truth about a crisis situation, and analyzes legal action against school personnel for failure to notify parents when students were known to engage in self-injury or suicidal behavior. Participants will review key issues, court decisions, best practice suicide postvention, and discuss legal consequences of inadequate threat assessment in schools.

School Safety Best Practices: Insights from a National Crisis Responder

Presenter: Scott Poland, Ed.D.
Dr. Scott Poland has provided assistance in the aftermath of 16 school shootings. This training will emphasize lessons learned from these tragedies, such as warning signs of serious mental illness and suicidal behavior, the relationship between suicide and school shootings, and what is known about school shooters and typology. Dr. Poland will also examine issues related to crisis drills and evacuation procedures and recommendations that include run-fight hide. Specific guidelines for conducting crisis drills that are not scary to students but do practice moving students to safe and protected places will be outlined.

Threat Assessment in Schools

Presenter: Scott Poland, Ed.D.
This workshop will provide step by step guidelines to help school personnel improve their skills in classifying threats and taking appropriate investigative actions to reduce the likelihood of violence. Dr. Poland will present lessons learned from a number of national incidents of school violence where he served following crisis, such as Red Lake, Minnesota and Littleton, Colorado. Key roles for various school personnel that comprise the school threat assessment team and the importance of working collaboratively with local authorities will be stressed. Participants will learn practical strategies and tips that they can implement in their school system to manage threats of violence.

Threat and Suicide Risk Assessment: Developing a Proactive and Consistent Approach to Evaluating Risk

Presenter: Melissa Reeves, Ph.D., NCSP
This workshop will focus on the process and procedures needed to establish a consistent school/district-wide approach to threat and suicide risk assessment utilizing a multidisciplinary team. Critical factors discussed will include: current statistics and legal cases, early identification of warning signs, primary prevention strategies to “break the code of silence”; an overview of risk assessment models and tools; assessment procedures; and strategies for interventions, postventions, and working with difficult parents.  Case study examples and forms will be shared to illustrate the process.

Youth Suicide: Contemporary issues in prevention/intervention and postvention for schools

Presenter: Scott Poland, Ed.D.
The incidence of youth suicide requires today’s schools to increase suicide prevention efforts and prepare to respond if a suicide occurs. This presentation will help administrators and school support personnel increase their understanding of the incidence and most common factors in youth suicide. Participants will learn effective strategies to prevent youth suicide and lessons from the aftermath of numerous suicides. This program will examine protective factors and primary prevention programs to prevent youth suicide, myths about suicide, intervention and postvention practices for suicide prevention, comprehensive suicide assessment, parent notification, collaboration with community services, self injury and suicide, bullying and suicide, “the contagion effect,” and a number of legal cases following a youth suicide.

For more information about any presentations or speakers contact Susan Parziale sparziale@safeandsoundschools.org