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Build Confidence in Safety Preparedness With Our Safety Academy.

First, a tremendous THANK YOU to all who prepared for and participated in our 2nd Annual Summer Safety Academy & Conference! It was a fantastic event and we couldn’t be happier to send more than 130 staff and administrators off to start their school year with ideas and opportunities to build confidence around school safety.

Here is a glimpse of the sessions, speakers and activities of this action-packed 2-day event!

Training Sessions Dive into Use of NaviGate Prepared Platform

Attendees kicked off their school safety learning in either the”new user/refresher” track or the”experienced user” track. Our Customer Success team took the new users through each of the modules highlighting techniques and tips to get the most from the software.

Trevor walks the walk while training Drill Logs & Scenarios
Cody explains the importance of proper User Setup

A few comments from attendees

“Very informational. It seems very straight forward.”

“Nice review of basic initial setup.”

“Good intro for beginners.”

Kevin Vargyas, associate principal at Cuyahoga Falls High School (Ohio), joined Kara German to offer”real-world” experience with Respond. His insights and approach were well-received!

Kevin & Kara present techniques and real-world experiences with Respond
“1600 students accounted for in under 7 minutes – that’s a win for us,” Kevin Vargyas

“Really great session. Loved having both presenters and their perspectives.”

“It was excellent that a building admin was included in the presentation to answer any questions we had. The NP rep really does a great job!”

We took this approach of having our customers talk about their experiences and practices for some of our advanced sessions, too. It’s super beneficial when you hear how others are using NaviGate Prepared and can learn from their successes (and challenges)!

Jeff Pedicino, director of security at Solon City School District (Ohio), shared his techniques for gaining buy-in from staff to building a culture of school safety throughout the district.

Having 30 years experience with the Solon police, Jeff Pedicino knows what it takes to keep kids safe.
A lot of note-takers!

“Very knowledgeable about the topic.”

“Good practical information and experiences.”

Our own, Thom Jones jumped into the mix with a Train the Trainer session aimed at giving admins the tools to train their staff on the Respond (student accountability) app.

Thom Jones guides attendees on training staff to use Respond
Thoughts of school safety running through our heads

“Excellent as always!”

“The information and format that Thom presented was very informative.”

“Great presentation.”

Chris Porter, our business development manager and longest tenured member of the NaviGate Prepared team, provided helpful direction to enhance the effectiveness of drills. Once you have the basics, down, using scenarios and getting staff to initiate drills is critical!

“Great job. Loved the scenarios.”

“Information was extremely helpful.”

Perhaps one of our most entertaining presentations came from Sergeant Jeff Hicks of the Blount County Sheriff’s department in Tennessee. With over 28 years of experience, you can just imagine the stories Jeff can tell!

“Highly informative and entertaining.”

“He gave perspectives that were helpful, and his presentation was informative and entertaining.”

“Great info! Helpful scenarios and real-life examples were beneficial.”

“Great support system with SRO’s. Wish we could set that up with our districts.”

General Sessions Provide School Safety Insights for All

The general sessions were designed to appeal to and inform people at all stages. Most of these sessions were focused on broader school safety messages and strategies.

Tom Livezey, superintendent, Oakridge Public Schools (Michigan) shared the balanced approach designed to nurture the physical and emotional needs of children thus creating an inclusive culture and a safe environment for students and staff.

“Inspiring and truly impressive all the care that he has been able to provide.”

“Thoughtful approach to integration of health and safety in a school environment.”

“Loved all the information good for ideas.”

The SRO Panel discussion was another crowd-pleaser! Everyone really liked hearing from our panel about their range of experiences and especially their perspectives on their role in the school and their approaches to safety. Our esteemed panel included

  • Jeff Hicks, sergeant, Blount County Sheriff (Tennessee)
  • Aaron Vanatta, SRO, Quaker Valley School District (Pennsylvania)
  • Brian Frazier, SRO, Blount County Schools (Tennessee)
  • Jon Karl, SRO, North Royalton (Ohio)

“We don’t have an SRO, but this panel sold the concept. Now the research being on how to make this happen in the district.”

“The officers did a great job explaining the functions of an SRO.”

“Nice to hear things from the viewpoint of an SRO.”

“What great guys and a great chance to hear about partnerships in other districts.”

Our development team, led by Matt Mastroine, is working diligently on a Reunification module designed to support your district’s reunification plan by leveraging technology when appropriate. Matt shared the details around the development thus far including hours of research, discussions with school administrators, beta tests with customers, practice sessions with our staff and much more.

Then, everyone participated in a reunification simulation! Roles were assigned and chaos ensued just like the real thing. This was the largest group Matt and his team have worked with and it went as expected – a bit messy, but a ton of fantastic dialogue! It probably didn’t help that the session was scheduled right before the appetizers and drinks!!

Parent Check-in…so orderly!
Student Check-in…huh?

“Looking forward to the finished project. It’s clear a lot of time was put into this.”

“Matt’s knowledge and passion are amazing!”

“Reunification exercise gave us tons of ideas on how to develop our own internal tabletop exercises!”

“Very exciting product. Cannot wait to get it.”

Industry Experts Inspire & Inform

We did bring in a few heavy hitters to round out the Safety Academy and give folks some inspiration, a ton of tangible ideas and their expertise in key areas of school safety.

Pretty sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house following Michele Gay’s immensely personal, yet tremendously inspiring story from Sandy Hook. Michele co-founded Safe and Sound Schools and chooses to turn her tragedy into a message about common sense ways we can create safer learning environments.

“THANK YOU. Your courage and willingness to help others is amazing.”

“Heart wrenching and heartfelt. Changes mindset and makes you want to get to work right now in revising school safety policies.”

“Fantastic and engaging presentation which appropriately forces you to remember that tragedies can occur anywhere!

“Great speaker and message.”

“Outstanding presentation.”

Michael Dorn, executive director of Safe Haven’s International kicked-off our second day with a high-energy presentation on the true fidelity of your safety plan. Will your plan work in an emergency? How do you know? Michael shared techniques to test the fidelity of your plan and surrounded his message with countless examples, worldwide experiences and keen insights!

Michael Dorn shares insights from his vast experiences around the globe
Dorn chooses a “lucky” volunteer to respond to school safety scenarios

“Michael is a dynamic and extremely well-informed presenter with great insight into school violence and cultural issues relating to today’s issues based upon the study of historical incidents and current events.”

“I have heard Michael speak before, yet I still learned more today.”

“Amazing. Such excellent information and reminders about balanced safety training. Research based, valuable information. Thank you for the opportunity to hear him speak. This session made all the difference in my training plan for our district.”

We wrapped up the Safety Academy with Anthony Huey, who got people on the edge of their seats, thinking, taking notes and seriously wondering how they would respond to the media, parents and their communities in the event of an emergency at their school. Anthony’s energy and enthusiasm were the perfect send off!

Anthony “interviews” attendees…the media pressure is on!
Anthony “interviews” attendees…the media pressure is on!
Anthony “interviews” attendees…the media pressure is on!

“Anthony is a great communicator that has great tools to share on how media and communications can be used as a beneficial tool or can be the worst problem in an incident.”

“Very useful and dynamic presentation. Thank you!”

“Very engaging speaker. Would love to hear more about social media concerns”

“Excellent session. Provided at ton of useful information!! A+”


One of our biggest concerns with the entire event is WHEN to have it next year?!! We took a poll via our conference app and are coming up with a pretty even split between June, July and August. What is your preference? Share your preferred month in the comments below!

Finally, another huge THANK YOU to everyone and very best wishes for a safe start to your school year.

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