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January quickly came and went and the year is off to a great start as we prepare for the 2020 National Summit on School Safety! Today, we’re taking a little break from summit prep to bring you up to speed everything our team has been up to since we last checked in after our second quarter in 2019. Before we share some highlights from our third and fourth quarter, here’s a snapshot of our impact in 2019! 

Community and Event Highlights

  • Hosted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Readinesss and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS), Michele Gay joined Kristina Anderson of the Koshka Foundation in September to discuss healing in the aftermath of a school crisis. 
  • Safe and Sound Schools kicked off the school year with the launch of the Good Days Tour and Contest. As part of the back-to-school campaign aimed at promoting positive school culture, Safe and Sound Schools held a nationwide contest asking students to share videos of what “good days” mean to them. Safe and Sound Schools has completed reviewing all entries and is in the process of organizing the tour stops for the winning schools! Stay tuned for new developments! 
  • During the fall, Michele teamed up with the Anne Arundel County Public Schools, providing a series of school safety workshops on school safety planning with Safe and Sound’s Comprehensive Framework for School Safety.
  • Safe and Sound Schools and the Jeffco DeAngelis Foundation formalized a partnership relationship on October 29.  Exciting project news to be released soon!
  • In November, Michele Gay joined the Secret Service’s NTAC team in D.C. and Chicago to share lesssons learned in prevention and to kick of a multi-city tour promoting the USSS Threat Assessment project, Protecting America’s Schools: A Secret Service Analysis of Targetted School Violence. In December, the team traveled to L.A, presenting before another packed house. Next stop Miami in February. Stay tuned for details!
  • In November, Alissa Parker was the recipient of the 2019 Turn for Peace award at the Anasazi Foundation’s 2019 Scholarship Gala. The award is presented annually to remarkable individuals whose charitable work has made a profound impact on the lives of children. Congrats, Alissa!
  • In early December, Safe and Sound Schools partnered with Door Security and Safety Foundation to bring community members a webinar, Door Security and Safety: Continuing the Conversation. If you missed the webinar, you can view the recording here
  • To close the year, Safe and Sound Schools released a save date invitation for the 2020 National Summit on School Safety. This year’s summit will take place April 29th and 30th in Dallas, Texas. Registration is now open!

Behind the Scenes

  • To help our community more easily access our hub of school safety resources, Safe and Sound Schools redesigned and relaunched its Resource Library.  Visitors can now easily browse and identify resources that are organized by school safety topic. Topics include: bullying, emergency response, abuse and neglect, special needs, substance abuse, reporting and threat assessment, violence prevention, and trauma-informed schools. For a complete list visit the Resource Library
  • The Safe and Sound team is growing! We welcomed Kim Vann as Operations Director! Kim brings us a wealth of nonprofit experience and deep dedication to serving children and families.

Media Highlights

 

With the close of this year’s first quarter, we’re excited to share an update for January, February, and March.

We started the year with a visit to Westport High School in Massachusetts. During her visit, Co-founder Michele Gay shared her story and introduced the Safe and Sound Youth Council to students and staff. Later in January, Michele made her way to Pennsylvania to present for staff and shared Safe and Sound Schools’ resources and programs with the Hazleton Area School District.

Early in February, Michele traveled to Georgetown, South Carolina, where she presented first for students and staff and then for the community. Shortly after, she traveled to Wisconsin to present for the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association. In late February, Co-founder Alissa Parker headed to the Cincinnati area, where she shared her story and practical ways to improve school safety with community members. Soon after, Michele traveled back to South Carolina to attend the South Carolina Association School Administrators School Safety Summit, where she shared her story and lessons learned in school safety. February community visits concluded in Michele’s home state of Maryland, where she attended Howard County’s school safety community meeting to advocate for funding and improved safety measures and training. Finally, Michele conducted a nationwide webinar with School Messenger, citing the power of communication capability and planning for school-based crisis management.

March community visits kicked off with a visit to Little Rock, Arkansas, where Safe and Sound Speaker and Mental Health Advisor, Dr. Stephen Brock, presented on bullying and suicide prevention for the Arkansas Mental Health in Education Association (ARMEA). The following week, Alissa traveled to Arlington, Virginia to present at the National PTA Legislative Conference, while Michele gathered with Lisa Hamp, Virginia Tech Survivor; Dr. Melissa Reeves, School-Based Mental Health Expert; Dr. CJ Huff, former superintendent of the Joplin, Missouri Schools; Kiki Lebya, Columbine survivor and teacher; John McDonald, school security and safety expert; and Mac Hardy of the National Association of School Resource Officers to kick off the Maryland School Safety Initiative, sponsored by the Maryland Center for School Safety and The BFG Foundation of Maryland. This year’s theme, Recovering the School Community from Crisis, brought together inspiring stories of recovery and resiliency and was particularly timely in the wake of several national school-based crisis. Stay tuned for more travel and trainings across Maryland as part of this year’s Maryland School Safety Initiative.

Also in March, Raptor Technologies hosted Dr. CJ Huff once again in a nationally attended school safety webinar on called “Seven Leadership Lessons.”  And the University at Buffalo hosted the 15th Annual Safe Schools Initiative Seminar, where Michele and Dr. Amanda Nickerson presented alongside Mo Canady, Safe and Sound Advisor and Executive Director for the National Association of School Resource Officers. While Safe and Sound speaker and Virginia Tech survivor, Lisa Hamp, spoke at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, Michele spoke in Wellesley, Massachusetts where she shared her story and invited community members to rethink school safety as a community. The following day, Michele traveled to Illinois to speak at the Illinois Fire Inspectors Association Conference, accompanied by Safe and Sound speaker and special advisor, Frank DeAngelis. Several days after this conference, Frank traveled to Georgia where he presented for the Eastside High School community. Later, Safe and Sound speaker Lisa Hamp traveled to Chicago to present her survivor’s story to Chicago area school leaders. The first quarter concluded with Michele and Dr. Melissa Reeves joining forces with Morris County, New Jersey school and law enforcement leaders to create a customized threat assessment matrix for assessing and managing threats to school safety.

Our first quarter was not only defined by the communities we visited and the relationships we forged during this period, it was also defined by the tragic events that took place during this time. We found ourselves deeply inspired by the student-led movements and took action to support the STOP School Violence Act of 2018. We also launched a national survey focusing on school safety perceptions and are currently analyzing the data to provide insights in the form of our first annual “State of School Safety” report to help school communities better tackle the myriad challenges of school safety. Stay tuned for our findings later in the spring.

To support Safe and Sound Schools and our mission, you can share our materials, donate, shop our School Store, or purchase an Inspire Change bracelet from Jammin Hammer Jewelry. Learn more about Jammin Hammer’s fundraiser for Safe and Sound Schools, here.