Noticing something out of the ordinary at one of her bus stops, this driver saved the life of a student’s father.

Read the article: School Bus Driver Hailed as Hero for Saving Life

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The following is part of an interview conducted by high school student “Melanie” with Co-Founder and Executive Director, Michele Gay.  We’ll post subsequent questions and answers from the interview as part of our continuing School Safety Q & A Blog Series.  We are very proud of Melanie’s contribution to the national school safety conversation!

Melanie: On your [Safe and Sound] website, there are many ideas that can be implemented [in] schools to make them safer. What are your opinions on the [use] of bulletproof glass? Is this affordable for schools?

Michele:  The idea of protecting and reinforcing glass has been recommended by school safety experts for quite a while.  This simple measure can deter, delay, or completely prevent unauthorized entrance to school buildings through glass windows and doors. It’s in use today in banks, government buildings, and stores.

What’s most commonly used to protect glass windows and doors today is not “bullet proof glass” though. It’s something called “ballistic film” or “glazing,” an application to existing windows that’s designed to prevent shattering and reinforce integrity. Bullets or other small projectiles can still pass through treated windows; however, the glass can better withstand impact. The treated window is no longer an easy entry point, and broken glass pieces cannot become dangerous projectiles (as they might in an impact, explosion, or high wind event). Windows can be manufactured with this technology at the factory level now too, allowing schools to install already reinforced windows during building construction.

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The cost of installing protective film, and the necessary anchoring system (to keep the glass attached to the window frame upon impact) runs an average of $15-25 per square foot. Not cheap–but not out of reach for most school communities willing to budget, fundraise, or work for bonds and grants. Many communities across the country are “phasing in” their installation, with focus on high priority areas first.  In addition to costs, proper installation of the film requires consideration of time and environmental factors too, so schools must plan ahead and do their homework for this project!

Another option for protecting glass windows and doors is something called a ballistic shield. Ballistic shields are aluminum, plates installed over glass to prevent access.  Although not “bullet proof,” these shields can withstand gunfire and impact,  preventing access and protecting from danger outside.  The shields are not transparent, like ballistic film, but may provide a more affordable and immediately available solution for schools.  According to Rob Couturier, who manufactures and installs ballistic shields, the shields cost $48-142 per window or door, and can be installed a day or less. Rob’s company customizes the plates with school names and logos “to make them part of the school” and provide openings for visual surveillance from inside the building.

As always, it is critically important for schools to include local police and fire officials when considering any safety enhancements.  Approaching school safety decisions as a team, represented by many stakeholders and perspectives, can build strong community support and engagement in school safety.

-Michele Gay, Co-Founder/Executive Director, Safe and Sound Schools

Safe and Sound Schools Wins
2015 SBANE New England Innovation Award

WALTHAM, Mass. – May 7, 2015 – The Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE) has announced Safe and Sound Schools as one of the eight winners of the prestigious 2015 SBANE New England Innovation Awards. The winners, narrowed from a list of 20 finalists and an initial pool of 175 organizations, were announced at the May 6th Evening of Innovation program held at the Westin Hotel, Waltham, Mass.

“The New England Innovation Awards showcases the best innovative companies in our region who possess the most explosive growth potential to expand our economic base. The health of the New England Economy depends upon the creative forces of innovation to drive capital formation and job creation,” said SBANE President, Robert Baker.

The nominees competed in two rounds of judging. The initial round was held on March 19th at the Conference Center at Bentley University in Waltham, where the nominees were narrowed to a list of 50 semi-finalists. In a second judging session, that list was then narrowed to 20 finalists.

“As is the case each and every year, the task of selecting our 20 finalists from a pool of over 175 nominees is an arduous one, with this year being no exception,” said SBANE’s New England Innovation Awards Committee Chairman, Todd Faber, President, The Faber Group.

The 20 Finalists presented to a panel of 68 judges on April 9th at the MIT Endicott House in Dedham, Mass. After the presentations, the judges chose Safe and Sound Schools as one of two winners in the “Non-Profit” category.

“All of our winners have exemplified what SBANE considers true industry agnostic innovation and we are delighted that they have joined an exclusive group of tremendous companies and organizations from throughout New England in SBANE’s ‘Circle of Excellence,’” said Faber.

Safe and Sound Schools shares this award with the additional non-profit winner The New England Center for Children, the for-profit winners, Affirmed Networks, Comark, Convergent Dental, and HALO Maritime Defense Systems Inc., and the Rising Stars, BioDirection and Medrobotics Corporation.

About SBANE:

The Smaller Business Association of New England, Inc. (SBANE), founded in 1938, is a private not-for-profit association of approximately 600 member companies located throughout the six-state region. SBANE was established to provide a legislative voice for small business at the state and federal levels and to make practical information available to help business owners grow their companies. SBANE runs diverse, educational programs each year and has active chapters in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The membership is characterized by a high degree of participation, reflected in a large and dynamic committee structure, addressing a range of topics from international trade to human resources. Visit SBANE at www.sbane.org.

About Safe and Sound Schools

Safe and Sound Schools is a non-profit organization founded by Sandy Hook parents who lost their children during the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy. Winner of the 2015 SBANE New England Innovation Award for nonprofits, Safe and Sound Schools is dedicated to empowering communities to improve school safety through discussion, collaboration, planning, and sharing of information, tools, and resources. To get involved, visit www.safeandsoundschools.org.

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Download the .pdf of SBANE Winner Release

At Safe and Sound we often highlight the role teachers play in keeping our children safe (only a few of us are teachers…really). This week though, we tip our hats to America’s dedicated teachers for ALL that they do to foster the development of America’s future leaders, business owners, workers, professionals, parents, and citizens!

We celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week nationally this week, May 4-8, and National Teacher Day on May 5. And while cute mugs, crafty cards, and colorful plants are often the staples of our thankful gestures, a spoken thank you or handwritten note can mean all the world to your favorite teacher (trust me).

According to the National Education Association (NEA), the origin of National Teacher Day is estimated to be around 1944, when Arkansas teacher Mattye White Woodridge began advocating among political and educational leaders for a national day to honor teachers. One of those leaders was none other than Eleanor Roosevelt, who in 1953, persuaded congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day that year. Since then, the NEA has continued to promote National Teacher Day each year and persistently lobbied congress to proclaim a national day to honor teachers each year.

Of course, teacher appreciation doesn’t have to be limited to one day or a week per year!  Still, National Teacher Day and Teacher Appreciation Week do serve as great reminders that dedicated teachers deserve our thanks.  And who doesn’t love to make their teacher smile?

So this week, we ask you to join us in honoring and celebrating our nation’s teachers. Check out our ideas below for showing the special teachers in your school community how glad you are for their hard work.  Here’s to all the teachers who go above and beyond for the education and safety of our children every day!  Thank you!

Teacher Day - Option 2-5

Michele Gay, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Safe and Sound:  A Sandy Hook Initiative