Learning, Growing, and Giving: A Safe and Sound Birthday Reflection

Originally published by Michele Gay on LinkedIn:

Hello Safe and Sound community,

As another year unfolds, I find myself reflecting on the incredible journey we’ve shared and the dreams we hold for the future. In this moment of reflection, I feel a calling to share my Safe and Sound birthday wish for this year: let’s commit to learning something new, from someone new, each day to keep our schools safe and sound.

From subject matter experts and parents, to solution providers and educators who are in our schools each day, I am so grateful for the countless opportunities I’ve had to listen, learn and participate in the progress we are making. Over the past few months, several remarkable moments have stood out, affirming that collectively, we are shaping safer and more secure futures nationwide

The National Summit on School Safety

With more attendees than ever, our virtual National Summit has become a must-attend event for professionals, proponents, and change-makers of school safety. Held during America’s Safe Schools Week, we delivered the most critical and timely content across all areas of the Safe and Sound Schools’ Framework for Comprehensive School Safety

  • Mental and Behavioral Health
  • Physical Safety and Security
  • Operations and Emergency Management
  • Health and Wellness
  • Culture, Climate, and Community
  • Leadership, Law, and Policy

The Sound Off on School Safety Podcast

In the latest season of The Sound Off on School Safety podcast, presented by the Door Security and Safety Foundation (DSSF), I’ve had the privilege of engaging with experts who generously share lessons in leadership, established best practices and essential strategies vital to creating safer campuses and communities.

Chock full of insights, these must-listen episodes feature inspiring guests who will also be speaking at our upcoming Midwest School Safety Summit in January. Here’s a glimpse into the first four:

Episode 1: Frank DeAngelis – Retired Principal of Columbine High School

Frank shares his leadership journey after the Columbine tragedy, emphasizing the significance of strong cross-generational relationships for a safer future.

“We’re all in this together, and that’s the most important thing. You never stop learning. Every day is a lesson.” – Frank DeAngelis

Episode 2: Molly Hudgens – School Counselor, Author of “Saving Sycamore”

Molly explores her role as a school counselor, underscoring how genuine connections with students can make a profound difference in their lives.

“For me, the focus is on making the kids feel safe in the school, and making the families and the staff understand that we’re putting every preventative measure in place for that safety to happen.” – Molly Hudgens

Episode 3: Drs. Frank Straub, PhD, and Alyse Ley, DO – Prevent 2 Protect Initiative

Drs. Straub and Ley delve into their proactive work with at-risk youth, illustrating how early intervention can make communities safer.

“If we take the time to invest in an individual and show them that we value them—that their lives are meaningful and important to us—that alone can change a trajectory.” –  Frank Straub, PhD

Episode 4: Missy Dodds – Teacher, Survivor Red Lake High School Shooting

Missy bravely shares her experience during the Red Lake High School shooting and her journey towards healing, reminding us of the power of hope and community.

Missy’s Safe and Sound birthday wish this year is for everyone to understand that, no matter the challenges and trials we face, deep breaths and baby steps can move mountains. Keeping schools and communities safe and sound is a worthy battle; may we never give up! 

The Motherish Podcast

Speaking of podcasts, I had the opportunity to connect with Pamela Silva and Karen Comas on Motherish, a podcast about motherhood and all its adventures by first-time, working moms. In the episode, we discuss how, as parents, our main priority is to keep children out of harm’s way. But, how can you ensure that you’re able to do so while they are in school? It can feel like an impossible task, however, there is so much we can actually do. Being able to dive into this topic through a parental lens is something so many can relate to, and it was a privilege to share insight with those looking for solutions for peace of mind.

Ringing the Opening Bell 

On Wednesday, November 15th, I had the honor of joining Motorola Solutions to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. Their commitment to “Solving for Safer” aligns seamlessly with our mission, and it was a momentous occasion to be part of.

Motorola solutions and team ringing the bell a the New York Stock Exchange in honor of their new initiative: Solving for safer.

Photo credit: New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)

Creating A Safe and Sound Future 

Our growth and impact wouldn’t be possible without the steadfast support of our Safe and Sound partners. Our community is a source of strength and gratitude, and our goal is to continue expanding and sharing insights to ensure the safety of our schools.

As we approach Giving Tuesday on November 28th, I invite you to consider the impact of a contribution. Last year, our donors helped us reach over 16,000 school communities, 40,000 professionals and school leaders, and over 5 million students nationwide! With your support, we can reach even more in 2024. Every dollar donated enables us to develop and distribute critical safety educational programming, tools, and resources. 

Thank you all for joining me in my birthday wish. I am confident in our ability to learn something new, from someone new, each day to keep our schools safe and sound.

On behalf of my family and the Safe and Sound Schools team, I wish each of you a wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving filled with warmth and quality time spent with family and friends.


Michele Gay

Co-Founder and Executive Director

Safe and Sound Schools

Make Your Impact

Help us reach more communities in 2024. Support the Safe and Sound Schools mission this holiday season with a tax-deductible gift.