Much like quarters one, two, and three, we found ourselves on the road, sharing our mission of improving school safety.

October travels began with Co-founder, Michele Gay, and Safe and Sound Advisor, Bob Martin, presenting and attending trainings at the Gavin deBecker Threat Assessment Academy. A few days later, Michele traveled to Stonehill College to present to an audience of 500 at the Massachusetts Women in Law Enforcement Conference. Safe and Sound speaker, Frank DeAngelis keynoted for the AXIS School Safety Symposium in Aurora, Colorado; and in late October, Michele Gay and Safe and Sound Speaker and Advisor, Dr. Melissa Reeves, presented at the NJ Chiefs Of Police conference. October travels ended with Michele and Safe and Sound Advisor, Paul Timm, visiting Rock Hill, South Carolina, to keynote for another Axis School Safety Symposium.

In the social sphere, Safe and Sound Schools worked with Boston University’s PRLab to focus its October efforts on Bullying Prevention Month, National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and launching its #ChangeForSchoolSafety campaign.

In November, Michele continued consulting work on curriculum development for “Stay Safe” Student Education” in Massachusetts schools. Michele also presented for the Greenville Public Schools in Tennessee during November. While Michele continued representing Safe and Sound Schools throughout the country, the Safe and Sound Schools team and community raised more than $2,500 through its #ChangeForSchoolSafety #GivingTuesday campaign.

By December, Michele made her way to Washington, DC to attend the Family Online Safety Institute Conference. A couple days later, Michele was joined by Dr. Melissa Reeves to present Reunification Workshops for Virginia Public Schools. With the Sandy Hook Anniversary nearing, Michele concluded her December travels in Massachusetts, working with local schools on curriculum development and staff training.

With the November elections still fresh on everyone’s minds at the beginning of December, the Safe and Sound Schools team felt it was important to discuss Restoring a Sense of Security in a Post-Election Climate. As the Sandy Hook anniversary neared, Alissa Parker shared a personal tribute to Emilie and Joey’s Legacy. Your ongoing support for our families has been incredible! Thank you.

We reached 40 states in 2016.

As we continue to honor Emilie and Joey’s legacy through our work in 2017, we hope that you will join us in empowering communities to improve school safety. We look forward to sharing more content, visting new communities, and launching new programs.




No community is immune to tragedy, says mother of Sandy Hook victim during Frederick seminar

Learn more: The Frederick News-Post

Mom of Sandy Hook victim speaks on school safety during Frederick meeting

Learn more:

Sandy Hook mother speaks at local Violence Prevention Symposium

Learn more: KIII TV, ABC, South Texas

Sandy Hook mother speaks at local Violence Prevention Symposium

Learn more: KIII-TV, Corpus Christi 

Focus on Preparation, Prevention and Moving Beyond Tragedy to Recovery

 (ANNAPOLIS, MD) –The Maryland Center for School Safety in partnership with Safe and Sound Schools will host a series of school safety trainings featuring presentations from a mother who lost her child in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, a law enforcement expert who will review that shooting and the lessons learned, a school mental health expert who will discuss recovery and how to build resiliency following a school tragedy, and a panel discussion focused on moving beyond school tragedies.

Speakers will be available for interviews following their presentations. School administrators, school-based mental health staff, school security staff, and school resource officers from across the state will be attending the trainings.

The Maryland Center for School Safety, created by the General Assembly in 2013, continues to focus on school safety and emergency preparedness so schools across Maryland can maintain a safe and supportive learning environment for students, staff, and parents. The Center works with all public school and law enforcement stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach to school safety, including disseminating information on best practices, providing training and technical assistance, and gathering meaningful data on school safety issues to ensure our schools are a safe and supportive environment. Additionally, a Center Governing Board was established to develop an implementation plan to phase in establishment and operation of the Center; provide general oversight and direction to the Center; and approve the annual budget for the Center. The State Superintendent of Schools serves as the Governing Board Chair. A representative of the local Superintendents of Schools and Maryland Association of Boards of Education also serve on the Governing Board.

For more details on when, where, and who you can contact, click here.

Everyone wants the schools in their community to be safe. We can all agree on this. Yet, safety is often taken for granted. For decades, schools were considered a safe haven where caring teachers taught and young children learned. Even when circumstances in the world outside were chaotic, schools were a safe place.

The times have changed.

The good news is that schools are responding to today’s safety and security challenges.

Since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook, almost 90% of school districts have made changes to their facilities or security policies to make schools safer. In 2016 alone, $2.7 billion was spent on school security systems. In 2017, that number will jump to almost $5 billion. As a result of these changes made by school districts, technologies are emerging to help schools with their mission of keeping schools safe.

Districts need to work with not only industry experts but also other districts to stay up to date on what technologies are working best for other school districts and what will work best for them. Each district needs to assess its specific risks, and then determine which technologies will best meet its needs.

Some technologies Districts should consider when assessing their schools:

  • Access controls: 93% of schools control access to their buildings during school hours, including locking and monitoring entrances. Except for the main entrance, doors should not be accessible from the outside. Today, technology allows schools the ability to secure their main entrance with a camera, intercom, and buzzer controlled door.
  • Visitor management systems: While many schools require visitors to sign in at the front desk, 80% of schools still use pen and paper to track visitors. A visitor management system lets administrators know who is in the building, why they are there and if they belong in the school.
  • Security cameras: Over 90% of K-12 schools report having security cameras and video surveillance equipment installed on campuses. Half of the schools without security cameras plan to purchase cameras within the next three years. Video surveillance equipment is used at school entrances as a part of a controlled access system as well as throughout campuses to monitor everything from theft to violent behavior.
  • Emergency management systems: Almost all schools have a written plan in place in the event of an emergency. Students and staff participate in everything from fire drills to active shooter scenarios.  In 2017, Districts need to consider emergency management systems which will increasingly replace paper plans. Emerging technology in this space includes emergency management mobile applications that handle everything from emergency procedures and building plans to reunification.

Like most areas of our lives today, technology can help but only if you know what works best for you. If your district or school has not conducted a risk assessment regarding emergencies, consider doing so as soon as possible. The next steps are to implement standard procedures for all buildings and technologies that help you secure your campuses. Above all else, schools need to be safe, secure places where students can learn.

Dan Trepanier serves as an Advisory Board Member for Safe and Sound Schools and Vice President of Sales & Marketing of Raptor Technologies, a national leader in K-12 Integrated School Safety Technologies.   Dan is passionate about keeping schools safe and works with national safety organizations and in schools across the country for safer schools. 



Sandy Hook mothers team up with local tech company to promote school safety

By Stacey Carmany, The Budget

Following the tragic mass shooting four years ago at Sandy Hook Elementary, two grieving mothers came together with a shared goal of empowering communities across the nation to improve safety and security in their own schools through the power of discussion, collaboration and planning and the sharing of information schools and resources.

Michele Gay said she and Alissa Parker had not been close before the tragedy, but their two daughters were good friends. Seven-year-old Josephine Gay and six-year-old Emilie Parker were among the 20 children and six adult staff members killed when an armed intruder gained entry to the building.

Together, the two mothers started the nonprofit Safe and Sound Schools: A Sandy Hook Initiative for Safer Schools, a platform that allows them to share information, ideas and the hard lessons learned from the events that transpired leading up to and following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

Gay said both girls were both very positive forces in the world, and, through the efforts of organization, they continue to be.

“We’d like to think our daughters brought us together around doing something really positive and really helpful and proactive for schools,” she explained. “We felt really pulled in the direction of working to help school communities make sure that they are safe from not only from the kind of unforeseen and unimaginable tragedy that we suffered but from some of the other tragedies and crises that kind of befall schools on a more regular basis.”

What started out as two mothers on a mission, has grown over the last three years into a huge network of speakers, advisors and professional contributors. The network includes a panel of experts who travel across the country to deliver keynote speeches and workshops.

“We started reaching out to experts and organizations and people that had been working on these issues of school safety for a long time,” Gay said. “We realized there’s a tremendous amount of information out there but unfortunately it’s just not trickling down to the people who need it in our schools, our teachers, our students and our educators. So that became our mission pretty quickly to get it to the right people.”

The organization’s website,, features free downloadable toolkits that educators and parents can use to facilitate conversations, problem-solving, and partnerships in their school community. There is also a special section for “Inspiring Ideas,” which includes low-cost and no-cost ways that schools can do to enhance safety.

As Gay and Parker continued to grow their team and organizational partnerships in Connecticut, a group of designers and developers in Tuscarawas County were getting ready to launch software featuring tools to help school districts plan and prepare for emergency situations.

NaviGate Prepared is a cloud-based software program developed by Lauren Innovations, a division of Lauren International. The program features tools to help districts develop, access and implement their emergency safety plans and procedures.

As they worked to grow and improve their program, the team reached out to Safe and Sound for feedback on how to improve their product.

“They reached out to us probably about three years ago when we had just first founded our mission,” Gay said. “They felt a lot of synergy, and they were really excited about what we were doing and felt that it was very complimentary to their own work to make schools safer.”

Gay said the company became Safe and Sound’s first corporate sponsor and has been a huge supporter of the organization’s mission.

“We really value innovators like Lauren. We really value people that are out there trying to make better tools for school safety really trying to make it a little easier to do some of the hard work of trying to make our schools safer,” Gay said. “We frequently have conversations with them about what we’re seeing as a need, what school communities are asking for, what they’re struggling with. It’s amazing to see what they do with it. “

Lauren Innovations General Manager Thom Jones, who led the sales and marketing efforts for the new software, said the two mothers were very gracious in sharing with the company the lessons their community learned post-Sandy Hook. A lot of components have been added to the software based on feedback from Safe and Sound and the Newtown school district.

Jones said the company has launched an app that gives educators instant access to a flip chart that details the appropriate response to various different emergency scenarios like bomb threats and the presence of an armed intruder. Another part of the app helps teachers keep track of their students during safety drills and emergencies. If schools have cameras and they are IP-capable, Jones said those cameras can also be connected to the NaviGate Prepared software to give first responders instant access to real-time video footage.

Jones said the software has been provided at no charge to all the school districts in Tuscarawas County. Those districts test out components of the software before they are made available to the public and released to other districts.

Jones said the company has gotten great feedback from those school districts who say the software has streamlined the process of becoming compliant with the state’s new school safety law, which went into effect at the beginning of 2015. They also say they feel like they are more prepared for emergencies than they were before.

“That’s one of the big pieces that we really emphasize with any school that we work with is that preparation and making sure that you are as prepared as possible for any potential emergency that could occur,” Jones said.

Gay said her organization also emphasizes the importance of planning and preparing for any emergency scenario, not just an active shooter situation.

“What we experienced is something fortunately, believe it or not, that is actually pretty rare in the United States to experience in a school community,” she said. “Nevertheless, you do see tragedies like tornados, we see fires, we see accidents that occur in our communities, so what we really encourage communities to do is be thinking of an all-hazards approach. Rather than trying to imagine every possible eventuality and unimaginable events to really be thinking more broadly about types of hazard that we can prepare for so we’re prepared for safety regardless of what the circumstances are.”

Jones said NaviGate prepared is currently being used in hundreds of school districts throughout the country, including half of the school districts in Ohio.