As the Safe and Sound team reflects on 2018 and looks forward to 2019, we’d like to express sincere gratitude to our supporters and partners. We are thankful for all the support we received this year, the donations and fundraisers, the new folks we’ve met and the familiar faces we reconnected with. School safety takes all hands, hearts, and minds, so we are grateful for our growing community and the awareness that our supporters, peers, and partners have worked so hard to raise alongside our organization.

 

2018 was our busiest year yet, with the doubling of our national team, even more schools using our free programs and resources, and twice the travels nationwide. With our eyes already on 2019, we’re proud to share the projects our team has been working on throughout 2018 to ring in a new year of safe and sound schools.

 

  • New Year, New Sound. Kick off 2019 with Safe and Sound Schools at Kellogg’s in New York City. Join us on January 4th for snacks, swag and selfie fun! This event is perfect for families, so bring your kids! Connect with co-founder Michele Gay, meet celebrity guest Jeremy Ray Taylor, and enjoy a musical performance by Chasing da Vinci. Sound off with a resolution for how you will make your schools safer in 2019, and follow along on social media with the hashtag #IChooseTo.

 

  • Parents for Safe Schools. We are thrilled to announce the expansion of our resources for parents. We’ve already created the Parents for Safe Schools program based on our quick and simple ideas for how parents can get involved in school safety. We’ll release the comprehensive program soon, along with more resources to help parents bridge the gap between themselves and the school or themselves and their children. We look forward to supporting more conversations and more parent involvement for safe and sound schools everywhere!

 

  • National Summit on School Safety. Join us March 28-30 for an intensive and interactive two-day summit in Houston, Texas. This event will bring together Educators; Administrators; Safety Professionals; Mental and Behavioral Health Professionals; Solution Providers; Community Members and Leaders, and span all areas of Safe and Sound’s Framework for Comprehensive School Safety: Mental and Behavioral Health; Health & Wellness; Physical Environment; Culture, Climate & Community; School Law, Policy & Finance; and Operations & Emergency Management. Register before January 15 to take advantage of early-bird tickets.

 

There’s much more to come, so be sure to follow us on social media for updates and announcements.

 

Wishing you a safe and happy new year!

Safe and Sound Schools

 

Don’t Miss the National Summit on School Safety

Safe and Sound Schools is thrilled to host our first National Summit on School Safety in partnership with the Region 4 Education Service Center, in Houston, Texas. If you haven’t already done so, save the date for March 28-30, 2019!

This event will bring together educators, administrators, safety professionals, mental and behavioral health professionals, solutions providers, and community members and leaders to learn essential tools and tactics to keep schools safe.

We will welcome national and regional experts to provide a number of resources, materials, and education to improve school safety in our communities. For a list of confirmed speakers, click here. We are working on adding more experts to our lineup and will periodically share blogs, email, and social media updates so make sure to check back in.

In the meantime we encourage you to take advantage of early bird pricing, now through December 31, 2018. Register with our partner Region 4 Education Service Center.

Sponsor the National Summit on School Safety

If you or your organization would like to join us as a sponsor of this event, sponsorship opportunities are available at a variety of levels. Check out the sponsorship opportunities here or email us at info@safeandsoundschools.org if you have questions.

We’d like to give a special shoutout to summit sponsor, Secure Schools Alliance. Thank you for supporting our mission and the inaugural National Summit on School Safety.


About Safe and Sound Schools

Safe and Sound Schools is a non-profit organization started by parents who lost their children in the tragedy at Sandy Hook. Safe and Sound Schools delivers crisis prevention, response, and recovery programs, tools, and resources, backed by national experts, to educate all members of the school community, from students and parents, to teachers and administrators, to law enforcement and local leaders.

About Regions 4 Education Service Center

Region 4 Education Service Center (Region 4) is one of 20 regional education service centers established by the Texas Legislature in 1967 to assist school districts and charter schools in improving efficiencies and student performance. Region 4 serves a seven-county area comprised of 48 public school districts and 37 open-enrollment charter schools, representing more than 1.2 million students, 97,000 educators, and 1,500 campuses.

December 14, 2018

I still remember Emilie pacing back and forth through the endless, pink Barbie packaging that filled the aisle at Target. She couldn’t quite decide what to buy. She was picking out a gift for her sweet classmate, Josephine (Joey for short), for her seventh birthday party. Joey was autistic and apraxic, which meant she was non-verbal and limited in her ability to communicate. She was also loving, affectionate, and girly, very girly. Just like Emilie.

She was the perfect friend for Emilie, who loved having a captive audience to listen to her endless ideas and stories. Emilie and Joey had become dear friends during their time together in school. Emilie loved to tell me all the things she was learning about Joey and their every little interaction. Like when Joey would excitedly touch the puffy skirts Emilie would wear to school and the joy in her face when she would see Emilie’s Barbie backpack each morning. As Emilie continued pacing up and down the aisle, determined to find the perfect gift for Joey, she finally found it. A ballerina Barbie…tutu and all.

I will always remember the love Emilie and Joey had for not only each other, but for all their classmates, teachers, and friends. They loved their school! After their tragic deaths on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook School, Michele and I chose to honor their lives. We built a legacy unique to our girls, a legacy devoted to protecting the sacred environment all children need to learn and grow safely – and joyfully! A legacy devoted to safe and sound schools. Every speech we give, every workshop we deliver, every program we create has our girls’ fingerprints all over it.

Emilie and Joey live on in our work, inspiring thousands of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and mental health and safety professions in their efforts to make schools a safe place for all. This year, as we mark the 6th anniversary of the tragedy that took their lives, help us celebrate their light, love, joy, and hope–and their legacy of safe and sound schools.

Joey and Emilie, we love you forever.


Alissa Parker is mother of Emilie Parker, killed in the tragedy at Sandy Hook School on December 14, 2012.  Alissa co-founded Safe and Sound Schools with Michele Gay, mother of Josephine Gay. Alissa is author of An Unseen Angel and a nationally sought after speaker on school safety, hope and healing.

In the next 7 minutes, a child in the U.S. will be bullied. It may be the son or daughter of someone you know. It may even be your own child. Meanwhile, only four in 100 adults will intervene. Read more: WalletHub

Mother of Sandy Hook Victim Aims to Boost School Safety. Read more.

Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, the Safe and Sound Schools team reflects on gratitude. We want to share our thoughts with you, our supporters.

We are especially thankful for:

The dedicated team of volunteers and staff that work behind the scenes to increase nationwide awareness about school safety.

The advisors, contributors, and experts that guide us on our mission, providing the reliable tools and resources that we share with you each day.

The expertise of our board members and advisors that has guided our sustainable growth and development over the last five years.

The families, students, and community members who challenge us to continually improve our arsenal of best-practice-informed tools that empower the Safe and Sound movement.

The school leaders, teachers, and staff that practice the principles of school safety, utilize our materials, and inspire us to create more resources to protect our students.

Our organizational and corporate partners that support and promote our work, making our mission possible.

The students across the country who have joined our movement, many starting Safe and Sound Youth Councils in schools across the country

The public safety and security professionals whose wealth of knowledge and experience helps protect and save lives everyday.

The support and sacrifice of our families, who accommodate our long hours, hectic travel, and time away from home as we work with schools and communities in every state.

Our beautiful children, in heaven and on earth. They are behind all that we do in our mission and on our journey. This is their legacy – a legacy of safe and sound schools.

From all of us at Safe and Sound Schools, Happy Thanksgiving!

Safe and Sound Schools, in partnership with Region 4 Education Service Center, is proud to announce the inaugural National Summit on School Safety.

Join us March 28-30, 2019, in Houston, Texas, for an intensive and interactive, two-day conference focused on comprehensive school safety. The National Summit on School Safety is ideal for educators, administrators, safety and security professionals, mental and behavioral health practitioners, solution providers, community members, and leaders.

The National Summit on School Safety is designed to provide a hands-on learning experience and will feature national and regional experts such as:

  • CJ Huff, Former Superintendent of Joplin Schools and Special Advisor for Education and Community Leadership to Safe and Sound Schools
  • John Michael Keyes, Founder and Executive Director of I Love U Guys Foundation
  • Frank DeAngelis, Former Columbine Principal and Special Advisor for Education Leadership to Safe and Sound Schools
  • Michele Gay, Co-founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools
  • Alissa Parker, Co-founder and Director of Safe and Sound Schools

With deep-dive breakout sessions, workshops, leadership round tables, inspirational keynotes, and dedicated networking, attendees will add to their school safety toolbox to better meet their community’s school safety needs. Conference sessions will cover the six key components of our Framework for Comprehensive School Safety Planning and Development:

  • Physical Environment
  • Operations and Emergency Management
  • Mental and Behavioral Health
  • Health and Wellness
  • Culture, Climate, and Community
  • School Law, Policy and Finance

Stay tuned for updates on more speakers, sponsors, and the summit agenda. To keep up with all things Safe and Sound, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. And to keep up with Region 4 Education Service Center, like them on Facebook and follow them Twitter.

Sponsorship

Sponsorship opportunities are available at a variety of levels. To learn more about sponsorship opportunities, contact Rania Mankarious at raniamankarious@me.com.

Dates

  • Thursday, March 28, 2019 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Meet & Greet
  • Friday, March 29, 2019 – 7:30 am – 4:30 pm: Keynote Speakers & Breakout Session
  • Saturday, March 30, 2019 – 7:30 am – 2:30 pm: Leadership Forum & Closing

Location

Join us at the Region 4 Education Service Center: 7145 W Tidwell Rd, Houston, TX 77092

Registration

Early bird tickets are available through December 31, 2018. Register with our partner, Region 4 Education Service Center.


See you there!

With the warm days of summer behind us (well, most of us!), we’re rounding up this quarter’s travels, talks, and noteworthy news.

In short, we were busy, covering nearly 50 cities, spanning 25 states, driving traffic to the web site, and reaching over 51,500 people from July through September. Check out the highlights!

Travel & Talks:

  • In July, FEMA shared a PrepTalk featuring Co-founder Michele Gay. In her presentation, “Rethinking School Safety,” Michele relayed her personal experience, highlighting lessons learned from the tragedy at Sandy Hook. She also presented Safe and Sound Schools’ Framework for Comprehensive School Safety Planning and Development.
  • Later in July, Co-founder Alissa Parker presented with Safe and Sound speaker and Virginia Tech survivor Lisa Hamp, joining Mandi and Harris Jaffe from Parkland at the “Community Preparedness in an Era of School Shootings” symposium in Indiana.
  • In August, Michele Gay joined national school safety leaders to participate in school safety workgroups, facilitated by the Department of Homeland Security in DC.
  • In September, Alissa Parker attended two Time Out for Women events, where she shared her story of resilience and recovery.
  • Early in September, Michele Gay was invited to keynote for the National Fire Prevention Association’s  Massachusetts School Active Shooter Symposium with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker. During her presentation, Michele shared school safety concerns and challenges, stressing the need for community-wide collaboration.
  • Also in September, Alissa Parker traveled to Columbus, Ohio to deliver a keynote presentation for The Ohio School Board Association. During the school security and safety summit, Alissa shared the lessons she learned in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy and emphasized the need to address the “It can’t happen here mentality.”

Fundraising & Grants:

  • St. George Men’s Group hosted a charity golf tournament to benefit Safe and Sound Schools, raising $3,100.
  • H&H Medical hosted a summer fundraiser to benefit Safe and Sound Schools in preparation for back to school, raising $1,550.
  • Report it® awarded Safe and Sound Schools a $25,000 grant to support the development of our free programs and resources.
  • Dandelion Bakery Bistro in Glenelg, MD, hosted Safe and Sound Schools and friends for a night of food, live music, and fundraising, raising over $1,110 to support our mission of safe schools.

Thank you to all the donors whose generous donations make our work and mission possible!

Spreading Our Mission:

  • Safe and Sound Schools partnered with Raptor Technologies to conduct a parent and student survey. The survey found that a majority of students and parents have anxiety over school shootings, with 75% of parents citing that they are willing pay out of their own pockets to do something about it. In fact, when asked about prioritizing funding, both parent and student survey respondents ranked improved school security as the top priority for additional funding over academics, arts and athletics. Learn more about the findings here.
  • Safe and Sound Schools also furthered the school safety discussion with several key in media engagements. Here are are just a few: Popular Mechanics Magazine, Huffington Post, Campus Safety, Sanctuary Magazine, Security Info Watch, and WebMD.

To keep up with all things Safe and Sound, connect with us on social media and subscribe to our blog.

Want the detailed view of our community visits? Look below!

For more information regarding our speakers and presentations/workshops/trainings, click here or to book a speaker or training, contact Gina at gina@kirklandproductions.com.


July

  • Frank DeAngelis – Columbine Safety Conference in Colorado, July 7-9
  • Michele Gay – Reunification presentation and workshop for the School Safety Conference of the Old Bridge Township Public Schools in Matawan, NJ, July 11
  • Alissa Parker – Delivered keynote presentation for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, July 11
  • John Baker – Situation Awareness presentation for Allegion in Renton, WA, July 11
  • Frank DeAngelis – Columbine Safety Conference in Colorado, July 12-14
  • Frank DeAngelis – Lead speaker for the School Safety Symposium in Delaware, July 16
  • John McDonald – Presented “The world isn’t a scary place…but it is uncertain” for the New York Association for Pupil transportation in Albany, NY, July 18
  • Michele Gay – Represented Safe and Sound Schools at the Campus Safety Conference in Herndon, VA, July 19
  • Frank DeAngelis – Delivered keynote presentation for NHA in Grand Rapids, MI, July 19
  • Jin Kim – National School Safety Conference in Orlando, FL, July 23-24
  • Frank DeAngelis – Delivered keynote presentation at the 2018 University of Wisconsin Collegiate Conference in Madison, WI, July 24-25
  • Alissa Parker & Lisa Hamp – Delivered keynote presentations on “Lessons Learned: Community Preparedness in an Era of School Shootings” for inHealth, Valparaiso, IN, July 26
  • John McDonald – Delivered custom presentation for Synovia Solutions in Indianapolis, IN, July 26
  • Michele & Dan Jewiss – Presentation for the Annual SRO Conference in West Virginia
  • Jin Kim – National School Safety Conference in Orlando, FL, July 26-29
  • Frank DeAngelis – Presented for Logan County High School, Bowling Green, KY, July

August

  • Lisa Hamp  – Shared “Lessons from a Virginia Tech Survivor” for the Johnston Community College Annual Faculty & Staff Conference in Smithfield, NC, August 1
  • Michele Gay – Participated in the Department of Homeland Security Roundtable in DC, August 1-2
  • Alissa Parker – Shared “A Parent’s Perspective” and “Beyond Tragedy” for the Belton ISD Leadership Retreat in Belton, TX, July 3
  • Michele Gay – Delivered presentation on community engagement for ROE Schoolworks in Danville, IL, August 3
  • Michele Gay & Melissa Reeves – Provided reunification trainings for the Wisconsin Police Leadership Foundation’s Summer Conference in Green Bay, WI,  August 6
  • Michele Gay – Delivered keynote on reunification for the NaviGate Prepare Summer Safety Academy in Canton, OH, August 9
  • Michele Gay – Presented a reunification and community engagement keynote for the Axis Schools Safety Symposium in Lowell, MI, August 14
  • Michele Gay – Delivered a keynote presentation for the Rockhill Schools’ Family Reunification Drill in Rock Hill, SC, August 16
  • Michele Gay, CJ Huff & John McDonald – Presentations for the Southern Berkshire Regional School District in Sheffield, MA, August 27-28

September

  • Michele Gay – Police Foundation Webinar, September 6
  • Michele Gay – Shared “A Parent’s Perspective” for the National Fire Protection Agency’s Active Shooter Summit in Quincy, MA, September 6
  • Frank DeAngelis – Presentation for the Uplift International Gala in Denver, CO, September 8
  • Michele Gay – NASRO Summit in Baltimore, MD, September 10-11
  • Alissa Parker – Delivered presentation at a Time Out for Women event in Sacramento, California, September 9-10
  • Melissa Reeves – Delivered keynote on threat assessment for the Indiana Department of Education in Indianapolis, IN, September 11
  • Alissa Parker – Presented at the School Security and Safety Solutions Summit for the Ohio School Boards Association in Columbus, OH, September 12
  • Lisa Hamp – Indiana Emergency Response, Indianapolis, IN, September 13
  • Alissa Parker – Keynote presentation at the Partnering for Safe Schools: A Safety and Security Summit, hosted the Texas Association of School Boards in Austin, TX, September 13
  • Alissa Parker – Presented at a Time Out for Women event in Des Moines, Iowa, September 14-15
  • Todd Savage – Presented at PREPaRE2 in Midlothian, TX, September 17-18
  • Michele Gay – Johnson Controls Webinar, September 18
  • Michele Gay – Delivered keynote on response and recovery efforts for Mount Vernon, IN & Poseyville, IN
  • Alissa Parker – Participated in a panel discussion and delivered a presentation for the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) in Napa, CA, September 19
  • Michele Gay – Shared “A Parent’s Perspective” for the National Fire Protection Agency’s Active Shooter Summit in Easton and Worcester, MA, September 20-21
  • Alissa Parker  – Provided a Safe and Sound Youth Council and Straight-A Safety Toolkit training workshop for the Oregon PTA, in Portland, OR, September 22
  • Frank DeAngelis – Shared “Leadership Lessons from Columbine and Beyond” for the The Chancellor Summit on Teacher Education at Texas A&M International University, September 23.
  • Alissa Parker – Presented on response and recovery for the Olympic Educational Service District 114 in Bremerton, WA, September 24.
  • Michele Gay – Attended and presented at the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF) event, September 24.
  • Michele Gay – Shared “A Parent’s Perspective” for the Monroe County Board of Education in Georgia, September 26.
  • Frank DeAngelis – Delivered a presentation to Weedsport High School community members in NY, September 25-27.
  • Scott Poland – Discussed suicide prevention and intervention for the Capital Area Intermediate Unit in Summerdale, PA, September 28.

This week school communities and safety professionals across America celebrate Safe Schools Week and we at Safe and Sound Schools invite you to take this opportunity to rethink school safety.

Our work with schools, community members, and professionals across the country, is greatly enriched by many and varied perspectives on school safety. Despite many different ideas and views on the issue, we’ve learned that it’s an issue that unites us all. We all want our schools–our children and loved ones to be safe to learn and work at school. But what does school safety mean to you? The truth is that it depends on your lens. Are you a student? A parent? An educator? School staff? A mental health professional? An administrator? A safety professional?

What does school safety mean to you?

Depending on who you are, where you are, and what your experiences have been, you may be concerned with any number of issues from gang violence and bullying, to active shooter and natural disasters. School safety covers a lot of topics–more than ever today. So how do we make sure that we cover all the bases and still keep an eye on the big picture? How do we ensure a truly comprehensive approach? We bring it all together.

We developed a Framework for Comprehensive School Safety Planning and Development just for this purpose. We like to call it the Big Six. Six key categories, or pillars, that all together support school safety.

(1) Mental & Behavioral Health: Here threat assessment teams and professionals and and school-based mental health providers such as school psychologists, counselors, and social workers work together to develop the programs, plans, services, and resources that support prevention and intervention for the safety of individuals and the community.

(2) Health & Wellness: From allergy and trauma care; to spotting signs of abuse and neglect; to nutrition and physical activity; and stress management and self care, tending to the health and wellness needs of our school communities helps foster a successful and safe learning environment.

(3) Physical Environment: Elements of architecture, design, CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design), security, tools and technology help to create and enhance our schools in order to naturally provide for a safe and supportive learning environment.

(4) Culture, Climate & Community: Fostering a safe and welcoming school culture is a fundamental part of school safety. How does it feel to be in school? Do students, educators, staff, and volunteers feel safe and comfortable enough to learn and grow? Here we explore programs and resources that help develop a positive culture and climate, and educate and activate the whole community for the benefit of all.

(5) School Law, Policy & Finance: There are federal, state, and local codes and laws that schools must abide by to ensure the physical safety and civil rights of students and staff. Then there’s the funding and financial planning required to provide for the trainings, tools, programs, and physical improvements that support our school safety efforts. These are the rules of the road and the tools to plan for the journey.

(6) Operations & Emergency Management: From everyday operations such as transportation, arrival and dismissal to emergency operations such as evacuation and reunification, school communities must examine the full spectrum of crisis prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery operations and the people involved to ensure safety for everyone, every day.

We created this framework to help you rethink school safety, and help you realize how you and so many others are a part of it. Where do you fit? What can you offer? Where will you start? Who will you invite to join you in working for a safer today and tomorrow?

As you rethink school safety, you will have many more questions than answers. Though one thing is for certain, it takes all of us together to ensure that our schools are truly safe and sound.


Safe and Sound Schools

When parents put their children on a school bus each morning, they are entrusting bus drivers, teachers, classroom aids and administrators with the health and safety of their children. School is supposed to be a secure, happy place for children to learn, grow, make friends and flourish, but when there are toxins in your children’s school supplies, this environment can become dangerous, and in some cases, even life-threatening. Below are some of the worst toxins your children may come in contact with at school, and how you can limit or prevent this exposure.

Benzene

Many children will only agree to go back to school shopping if they are allowed to pick out fun supplies for their classes. For many kids, this can mean glitter pens and scented markers, but parents beware. A carcinogen known as benzene has been found in many brands of dry erase markers, and can harm your children if they even smell the tips of scented magic markers or dry erase markers.

Asbestos

If your children attend a school built before 1970, the walls, floors and ceilings are most likely lined with asbestos-containing insulation. Your children will probably not know they have even come in contact with asbestos, but even trace amounts of secondhand exposure to these fibers can cause mesothelioma. This incurable cancer will eventually manifest in the lining of the lungs, stomach and heart. It typically takes between 20 and 50 years to show symptoms, which are vague, but can include weight loss, chest pain and difficulty breathing.

This poisonous chemical has also been found in many packs of crayons, which makes it especially harmful for children. As the wax from the crayons comes in contact with paper, it disturbs this harmful substance and puts students at risk. If you are concerned about your children being exposed to asbestos from their classrooms or school buildings, attend a PTA or school board meeting to inquire about asbestos management. Schools are legally required to have an asbestos management plan in place and parents are allowed to request access to this plan at any time.

Lead

The most commonly known classroom toxin is lead, which was once used in interior paint, pencils, and mixed into the metal that was used to create desks and chairs. Now, however, lead is being found in different materials that students bring to class. Lead has been discovered in the plastic that comprises both water bottles and lunch boxes, which can potentially make your little one’s food and drinks hazardous.

Lead has been phased out of most metals and even paints, but can still be found in many plastic compounds. To ensure that your children’s lunches do not come into contact with lead, a paper bagged lunch is a safer alternative.

To keep your children protected from toxic chemicals and substances they can come into contact with at school, research the school supplies they will need for classes before you purchase anything, and try to use BPA and additive-free plastics when possible. Your children deserve to be as safe at school as they are in your arms.


Guest Author:
Emily Walsh is the Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance (MCA) where her advocacy work helps people become aware of what toxins they are exposed to and how to make simple changes for a healthier life. Emily’s main focus is spreading the word about asbestos to all vulnerable communities to make sure they are aware of the material’s potential health impacts. You can follow MCA on Facebook or Twitter.

Editor’s Note:
This blog contains views, and positions of the author, and does not represent Safe and Sound Schools. Information provided in this blog is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Safe and Sound Schools accepts no liability for any omissions, errors, or representations. The copyright to this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them