Michele Gay is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound: A Sandy Hook Initiative. Following the tragic loss of her daughter, Josephine, in the Sandy Hook School tragedy, Michele joined Sandy Hook mother Alissa Parker to establish Safe and Sound Schools as a national resource for school safety. Michele travels across the country sharing her message of inspiration, recovery, and school safety education and advocacy. She conducts school safety workshops and seminars, presenting Safe and Sound’s school safety model and resources, and facilitating school safety development in communities across the country.
School Safety: A Parent’s Perspective
Michele tells her personal story and recounts the lessons she learned on December 14, 2012 and in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook School tragedy. She shares the inspiring way she has chosen to help school communities improve school safety in honor of her daughter, Josephine, and memory of the other 19 children and six teachers lost on December 14, 2012. Michele’s perspective, as the mother of a special-needs child and former elementary school teacher, provides unique insight and inspiration for parents, administrators, school staff, emergency responders and community members who strive to make their schools safer. Michele Gay and the Safe and Sound foundation bring an important message to our communities, and represent a powerful presence in our national school safety community.
Beyond Tragedy: Response and Recovery in a School Based Crisis
Michele shares her personal perspective on the Sandy Hook School response and recovery efforts. Based on her own experiences, those of victims, survivors, first responders, community leaders, educators, families, and children in the Sandy Hook and Newtown community, Michele outlines the challenges, successes, and lessons learned in the aftermath of tragedy and loss to better prepare others to respond and recover from emergencies, crisis, and disaster. She shares 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.
Reunification for the School Community
Michele co-presents with Dr. Melissa Reeves to 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.
Engaging the Community in School Safety: Tools and Ideas for Safer Schools
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, 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.
Developmentally Appropriate Safety Education
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 Safe and Sound’s models 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.
Panel Discussions and Q and A Sessions
Michele offers Q and A sessions following her keynotes or as a separate session. She is also available for panel discussions. As these formats are more organic and highly individualized, Michele prefers to discuss and plan for these types of sessions directly with clients.
Michele’s outstanding keynote address was well received by the 800+ school resource officers in attendance and it truly set the stage for a powerful close to our national school safety conference.”
-Mo Canady, Executive Director, National Association of School Resource Officers, NASRO
“We had the honor of having Michele Gay speak at our School Safety Summit to an audience of our district and school leadership. Her presentation…was both inspirational and educational in providing our schools with great ideas that they could take back to their school and implement immediately. I cannot think of a more meaningful presentation that truly hits home with everyone in the audience.”
-Paul Hildreth, Emergency Operations Safety & Security, Fulton County Schools
“Michele’s presentation, “A Mother’s Perspective to School Safety” was eye-opening on many levels. We believe that hearing her story on how events truly unfolded really puts a different perspective on school safety. It shows how important it is for all levels of administration, from principals down to the teachers…[to] be ready to jump into any role that is needed at the time of an emergency.”
-Jamia McDonald, Executive Director, Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, RIEMA
“Thanks for speaking at Middlesex Partnerships for Youth’s 2014 School safety Summit. Your compelling address about the need for upgrading school safety measures was well received. You are an eloquent speaker and the 250+ conference participants were hanging on your every word. Thanks for making this conference so special. Many of our participants told us that it was the best School Safety Summit they had ever attended and that having you as a speaker was the reason why!”
-Margie Daniels, Executive Director, Middlesex Partnerships for Youth
“Michele’s presentations to parents, educators, and policy makers provide the perfect balance of emotion and practical guidance. She promotes an approach to school safety that strikes the important balance between physical and psychological safety. Her efforts have helped to ensure schools have comprehensive safety and crisis plans, with special attention being given to reunification and recovery.”
-Stephen E. Brock, Ph.D., NCSP, LEP, Past President, National Association of School Psychologists, NASP