Michele Gay is a speaker working with Kirkland Productions through Safe & Sound Schools.
Michele Gay is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Safe and Sound Schools. Following the tragic loss of her daughter, Josephine, in the Sandy Hook School tragedy, Michele joined fellow 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.
Since launching the foundation, Michele has spoken before numerous national audiences, including the National Association of School Resource Officers, the Georgia Education Leadership Association, the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency’s School Safety Conference, and at the Great Lakes Homeland Security Conference. Recently, she was honored with the “Champion of Life” award by the BFG Community Foundation of Baltimore, Maryland, for her work as a school safety advocate with Safe and Sound and the “Shining Star” award by the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for establishing “Joey’s Fund” with her husband for families with autism.
Prior to founding Safe and Sound Schools, Michele taught in the Maryland and Virginia Public Schools, where she served as both a mentor teacher and a peer coach, and was awarded “Exemplary Teacher” recognition in the Fairfax County Public Schools. Michele holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Towson University and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College. Her education and professional and personal experiences have uniquely positioned her to advocate on the national level for safer schools.
School Safety: A Parent’s Perspective
(Keynote, 1-2 hours depending on requests)
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
(Keynote, 1-2 hours depending on requests)
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.
School Safety: Students First
This presentation, offered by several of our speakers and educators, is designed with students in mind. On our website, we offer a complimentary download of our Safe and Sound Youth Council Kit. This guide is designed to help 6th – 12th grade students, their parents, and their advisors take the first steps toward being a proactive part of the their school’s safety plan. For those schools and school districts who want to take the extra step, Safe and Sound Schools offers speakers who can assist in guidance and implementation, help launch the program, lead site walk-throughs, and ensure that you have all of the tools you need to institute safe school principles for all students. Each program is customized to the unique needs of that school’s community. Our presenters share their personal stories followed by a powerful call to action directing the youth of our nation to step up for school safety. As leaders and problem-solvers in their own right, our next generation is essential to our mission: safe and sound schools for all.
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
(1 hour, seminar/workshop)
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
(1-2 hour workshop)
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.
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