"Excerpt from School Safety: A Parent's Perspective"
Michele Gay is a Safe & Sound Schools speaker booked by Kirkland Productions.
Mother, educator, and co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools, Michele Gay chose to take action after losing her daughter Josephine Grace on December 14, 2012. Since that time, Gay has channeled her work as an advocate, improving safety and security in schools and communities across our country. With a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Towson State University, Gay earned Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from McDaniel College. Prior to the Sandy Hook tragedy, she taught at the elementary level in the Maryland and Virginia public schools. Now a nationally and internationally recognized public speaker and school safety expert, Gay reaches audiences and consults with all levels of community institutions — schools; municipalities; houses of worship; educational and public safety leadership; state and federal governments; law enforcement agencies; and top news media sources. Through her work, and always with a goal of helping others increase the safety within their own communities, Gay shares her personal experiences and the lessons she has learned. The recipient of numerous national awards, Gay is a regular contributor for print, radio, and television outlets. The primary visionary and author of Safe and Sound’s programs and materials, Gay has served as a stakeholder voice in national legislative discussions. Through these works, Gay continues to build Safe and Sound Schools as a national hub of school safety education, technical assistance, expert content, and best practices. Gay’s impassioned position on school safety hinges on every community taking a comprehensive and sustainable approach to safety. She works diligently to unite stakeholders of all disciplines and perspectives. An educator by training — and fueled by the heart of a mother and community member — Gay is uniquely positioned to help others prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from tragedies of their own. Gay remains inspired by Josephine, every day. She dedicates herself to honoring Josephine’s memory through this work to ensure that every school, every child, and every community is truly safe and sound.
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.
Your work reminds me of this important truth: Everyone might be a target at times, but not everyone must be a victim. I'm honored to be part of what you do.
Amber Kilburn Disaster Relief Coordinator University of South Dakota