When is the last time you took stock of the amazing people who help to make your schools safer? More importantly, when is the last time you took a moment to express your gratitude for the many things that they do exceptionally well every day? Meeting constant deadlines and “putting out fires” can make it easy to lose site of why practitioners are typically immensely busy people.
This thought has hit me from time-to-time throughout my school security career. It once again smacked me between the eyes unexpectedly during this past incredibly hectic week. I along with four of my colleagues had to deliver a short notice presentation last week. Safe Havens was one of four finalists for a school security assessment project for more than 200 schools and the client is on a tight deadline. Fortunately, the timing for the presentation could not have been better as Dr. Shepherd and I were both not scheduled for off-site work that day. While driving to the interview, another school security consultant who did not make the finalist selection called to congratulate me. I not only appreciated the kind and professional gesture, but I also learned that Safe Havens had been ranked first of the four finalist firms in first phase of the bid review process. Bids of this scale are incredibly competitive and I knew there would be some top firms on the list of finalists.
As I continued the drive, I reflected on how fortunate I was to have a dedicated team of school safety experts to put such a quality bid together on short notice. The project will require twenty-one Safe Havens personnel to be on the ground and several more staff supporting them off-site. This reminded me how Safe Havens has grown steadily from a small team of only four school security experts over the past thirteen years. I thought about how I would describe the extensive and varied backgrounds of our diverse team members to the panel in a relatively short presentation. I realized that our team included five school security directors, three school district police chiefs, two team members with full-time state government emergency management and homeland security experience, two analysts who have completed advanced anti-terrorism training in Israel, an attorney and authors of more than two dozen books on school safety. Members of our team are currently assisting in our sixth statewide school security assessment project and were trusted to work on the 2013 White House School Safety Initiative. The experience the analysts have working in more than twenty countries is unmatched in the private sector. The analysts on this team have assisted with school security assessments for more than 5,000 K12 schools and are the only school safety team in the nation to have worked on multiple statewide school security assessment projects.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how easy it can be to take your own people for granted. While I periodically take the time to express my gratitude for their work, the sheer volume of our work this past year has been staggering, even for the world’s largest school security assessment team. Our personnel have been conducting school security assessments, delivering school security keynotes at conferences and providing training to school and public safety officials almost every week since that fateful day last December.
While it has been a heavy load, our school security assessment team has been up to the challenge meeting demanding deadlines and delivering work that consistently exceeds the expectations of our clients. I am truly impressed with the dedication of our analysts, video crew and support staff. They have performed to incredible levels this year and have truly achieved results that are nothing short of remarkable during this challenging time.
I found it easy to describe what I truly believe to be the world’s most experienced, dedicated, and talented school security experts to the committee. When combined with vast expertise of two internationally experienced partner firms who have worked extensively for clients including the U.S. State Department, Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other large organizations, it was easy for me to confidently state that our team could perform exceptional school security assessments for the client in a manner unmatched by any school security firm in the world.
While the competition for this project is tough, I am proud of my team regardless of which firm the district selects. As I have articulated before in this column, I am continually inspired by the dedication of what I feel is the most skilled and unparalleled school security assessment team in the world. While we can always find something to be upset about if we try, there is so much good in the world if we just take the time to look for it. Take the time to consider who is on your dedicated school security team, how hard they work and what they have done to make school a safer place for all. Most importantly, take the time to thank them for their important contributions.
Thank you team!