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Posts Tagged ‘back to school’

What Back-to-School Time Teaches Me About Innovation

One of our core values at ECT Services is innovation. One of our greatest strengths is in creating solutions that solve problems for customers, just as we did with our VR Tenant product.

It’s back to school time for many students and observing as teachers and students embark on a new school year has sparked some insights for me about innovation. I’ll share a few:

Assemble the basic tools. Walk into any retailer that carries school supplies and you’re sure to see racks of supply lists for local schools displayed. Pencils, crayons or markers, glue, scissors, paper, folders, notebooks and the like are all basic tools for every student from Kindergarten through college. From these basic tools students will write essays, create art and solve problems every day. Students who lack these basic supplies will be at a disadvantage. Teachers are pressured to solve the problem and fill the gap, which may in turn distract them from their objective for the lesson.

What are the basic tools that equip and empower your organization to run efficiently and effectively? Are those tools supplied to every team member? Is every team member properly trained on how to get the most out of these tools?

Insufficiently supplied teams put team members at a disadvantage and place stress on leaders. Teams can innovate solutions to bridge fundamental gaps, but wouldn’t you rather spend that energy on solving bigger, more complex problems?

Standardization can lead to efficiency gains and greater leverage for the entire organization. One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is that some teachers specify which products to purchase – particular brands, colors and counts perhaps. The reason is often that supplies are stored and used collectively. Rather than have students keep their individual supplies stored in their own desk or cubby, markers or glue sticks or whatever are stored in bins and distributed to students as needed. Standardizing these supplies – making sure all binders are a uniform size and color, for example – streamlines storage, ensures interoperability and guarantees quality. Teachers know which products work best to meet goals, and how those products work together.

Interoperability and integration reduce friction and leverage efficiencies, both of which may lead to innovation. We see this every day in the systems we integrate. When access control, video, fire detection and suppression, gun shot detection and communication systems and others are all integrated, the entire system becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Data can be gathered and analyzed to discover opportunities to better position resources or make energy consumption more efficient, for example.

Networks invite collaborative innovation. This time of year, social networks like Facebook and Pinterest are rife with ideas shared by teachers. From bulletin boards ideas to classroom management tips to fundraising, teachers freely share their innovations with others within their own networks and beyond.

It’s important to network within your vertical, and without. While some industries must be cautious about giving away competitive secrets or losing advantage, many innovations fall well outside any area of risk or concern. Be generous and genuine in sharing your ideas, and let others inspire you.

We strive to be generous and genuine with all our partners, from our customers to our vendors. Do you have a security or access control problem to solve? Call us at (800) 567-1180 to discuss.

Could technology fix long-term budget pressure on school safety?

Serious budget pressures are now threatening school safety.

In recent weeks, officials with the city of Louisville have announced that they may have to reduce the number of officers available to offer security services to schools, including school resource officers and crossing guards. The announcements have raised alarms among staff, students and parents who are concerned that the reductions and reallocations will place students at risk.

While short-term measures aimed at covering gaps have been put in place, long-term budget pressures remain. That means schools may need to get more creative when it comes to meeting safety and security needs.

The answer to some needs may be in leveraging technology, and at least one company is offering to help schools apply for grants to meet needs. Avigilon, a Motorola company, is offering grant research, grant alert notices and expert grant application reviews to schools applying for grants to enhance video security.

How can video enhance safety and security? Here are a few ideas:

Extend the reach of staff and school safety officers. Video enables staff and school safety officers to keep their eyes on all areas of school facilities and grounds and get help where it is needed most quickly and accurately. Monitors can quickly assess issues and offer the appropriate interventions if necessary.

Integrate with other systems. Video can be integrated with other systems for a more seamless, comprehensive approach. Integrations can include access control, public address systems/two-way communication, gunshot detection, fire detection and more.

Study traffic patterns and identify opportunities for improvement. Video can offer a birds-eye view – literally – of high-congestion indoor and outdoor areas that when coupled with artificial intelligence and other tools can help administrators gain insights into process and facility improvements.

Interested in learning more about how you might be able to leverage technology to enhance school safety and security? ECT Services has deep expertise and an innovative approach. Call us at 502-567-1180 for a free onsite consultation.

Marshall County school shooting hits close to home

Were it not for the location, perhaps we wouldn’t have even paid much attention to it.

But last week’s school shooting in Marshall County, Kentucky was close to home. Two students were killed, and more than a dozen injured when a student opened fire with a handgun in the school’s commons area.

It was the eleventh school shooting of the year. And since then, another has hit the news waves. That remarkable statistic is even more remarkable given the fact that the end of January was nearly a week away when the shooting took place, and most schools across the country didn’t get started until several days into January, and many schools across the Southeast were out for several days due to inclement weather.

On average, the United States has around a school shooting a week, and there have been more than 300 school shootings since 2013, according to Everytown for Gun Safety.

Political solutions don’t seem to be in the offing, though one Kentucky lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow school districts to employ marshals with concealed carry permits to patrol school grounds. In the event of an active shooter situation, the lawmaker hopes a marshal would be able to subdue the shooter by returning fire.

In response to the Marshall County shooting, some other Kentucky schools have held active shooter drills, reminding students and teachers to “run, hide, or fight.” Active shooter drills are now as much a part of safety training as tornado and fire drills.

Just as tornado and fire alarms are standard protection systems in schools, perhaps it’s time to consider shot detection systems as the standard, too.
Shooter Detection System’s Guardian uses acoustic and infrared sensors to instantly identify gunshots inside a facility. The precise location of the gunshots is noted, and authorities are alerted immediately. Warnings are also instantly sent out to people in the facility and vicinity advising them to evacuate or take cover. Guardian gunshot detection can also be integrated with a number of other systems, including text alerts, incident management dashboards and building systems like door locks and video surveillance.

Interested in learning more about the Guardian active shooter detection system? Register now for one of our Live Fire events to see a live demonstration, or call us at (800) 567-1180. Our next event if February 28th. Please join us to learn more information.

Teacher’s preparation leads to lives saved.

A teacher played a key role in putting an end to a school shooting.


When a student at Mattoon High School in rural eastern Illinois opened fire in the cafeteria, Angela McQueen sprang into action, subduing the shooter and preventing him from wounding or injuring others. As a result of the physical education teacher’s quick action, just one student was injured by bullets and no one was killed.

Authorities pointed to training as contributing to McQueen’s successful takedown of the shooter.

“Lives were saved by the quick response of a teacher here,” Mattoon police Chief Jeff Branson said at press conference Wednesday evening, as reported in the Champaign, Illinois News-Gazette. “She had been trained, obviously, but in these scenarios, you just don’t know what happens until it happens.”

Training for emergency situations like active shooters or natural disasters may seem dull, repetitive or entirely unnecessary, but it is the key to success for response and risk reduction. An associate at a Dallas staffing firm realized the importance of her recent training when an active shooter went on a rampage in her office building, and she had to keep herself and several new employees safe.

What can your organization learn from the latest school shooting?

Don’t take training for granted. Make sure every member of your team is trained to respond in the case of any type of emergency – active shooter, fire, weather event, etc. It’s not enough to simply hand out a manual or give a PowerPoint presentation. Training should include active participation including role playing, walking through escape and shelter in place routes, and more.

Regularly review policies and procedures. Look for gaps in plans, and fill those gaps wherever possible. Take into account key learnings from other live situations, research, recommendations from other organizations and more.
Review safety systems regularly. Maintain current systems, and consider adding new ones.

Gunshot detection systems are a fairly new entry to the market. Much as a smoke or fire detection system automatically alerts building occupants to potential danger, gunshot detection systems automatically alert and respond to shots fired in a facility.

Learn more about our Guardian active shooter detection systems at an upcoming Live Fire event.

How can a parent know if their child poses a risk?

Another school shooting tragedy was avoided this week, thanks to alert parents.

The father of Nichole Cevario, 18, alerted officials at Catoctic High School in Thurmont, Maryland that he suspected his daughter was plotting violence towards the school. She was immediately removed from class, and a search of the Cevario’s home yielded a shotgun and bomb-making materials. Investigators also turned up a journal featuring detailed plans for a plot to carry out a mass shooting.
It’s not the first time in recent memory that parents have foiled a school shooting attempt.
In December, parents in Utah noticed their 15-year-old’s behavior was off. After noting that guns were missing from their home, they raced to his school and disarmed him just moments after he fired the first shot in his classroom.
How can parents know when a child’s behavior is truly threatening? Sandy Hook Promise, a group founded and led by families of those killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, have launched a campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the signs that someone may be at risk of committing an act of gun violence.
According to the group’s Know the Signs guide, signals that someone is at risk of hurting themselves or others may include:
1. A strong fascination with firearms or acts of mass violence.
2. Aggressive behavior triggered for seemingly minor reasons.
3. A sudden change in academic performance or aspirations for the future.
4. Real or perceived feelings that they are picked on or persecuted by others, and isolation from others.
5. Unsupervised or illegal access to firearms.
6. Overt threats of violence, which may be verbal, written, pictures or videos. Eighty percent of school shooters told someone of their plans ahead of time.
Parents, other family members, friends or teachers should share their concerns with school officials and police immediately, as did the parents of the teens in the Utah and Maryland incidents. At the very least, reporting concerns could lead to help for the teen, and at best, could avert a horrible tragedy.

Could facility improvements help improve student performance?

Maintaining school facilities is a challenge in nearly every school district. Most districts don’t have the funds to adequately resource regular capital improvements, and maintenance is sometimes deferred and systems and equipment are repaired long after they should have been replaced.


It’s no different for Jefferson County Public Schools, which has 155 school buildings, shifting population and a $1.3 billion list of maintenance and new construction projects.
Addressing the maintenance and construction issues is a complex challenge, but the payoffs are considerable, including improved energy efficiency and better utilization of resources, among other things.
But the most important payback of all might be improved student performance. How?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, schools without a major maintenance backlog have a higher average daily attendance of 4 to 5 students per 1,000 and a lower annual dropout rate by 10 to 13 students per 1,000 compared to schools with backlogs.
Check out these other benefits and impacts the EPA cites:

  • Studies that measure school conditions consistently show improved scores on standardized tests as school conditions improve.
  • Controlled studies show that children perform school work with greater speed as air ventilation rates increase, and performance of teachers and staff also improves.
  • Higher ventilation rates have been shown to reduce the transmission of infectious agents in the building, which leads to a drop in sickness and absenteeism.
  • Moderate changes in room temperature affect children’s abilities to perform mental tasks requiring concentration, such as addition, multiplication and sentence comprehension. Poor temperature and humidity regulation can lead to problems with focus.

Well-maintained systems are key to building maintenance, and important for the development, health and safety of students and staff.
We’re always happy to discuss how our solutions can help. Connect with us at the Kentucky School Plant Management Association conference and workshops Oct. 18-19 at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1801 Newtown Pike in Lexington or call us at (800) 567-1180 to discuss your needs.

Too many children know what it’s like to return to school after a shooting

This week, Reddit posted a question to anyone who has experienced a school shooting: what’s it like to go back to school after the shooting?

19014677 - crime scene tape in the foreground with a blurred police car in the background at a crime scene.

The post gathered more than 5,000 responses. Some responses came from those who had experienced well-known school shootings, such as those that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine High School or Virginia Tech. Others experienced shootings that grabbed fewer headlines, but no less deep an impact; they shared stories of classmates who took their own lives or were victims of domestic violence or other assault.

While the experiences were all different, depending on the proximity to the event and/or to victims or the shooter, one constant seems to emerge: the shooting changed them in some fundamental way. It opened their eyes to the fragility of life, it helped them realize how quickly life could be snatched away. Some indicated they were able to cope with their new normal, others said they had difficulty.

What can parents and other caring adults do to help children cope with a school shooting? A few tips from Psychology Today:

Talk about it, but don’t overdo. Share important information, without going into too many details. Let children lead the conversation, rather they try to reason or explain the situation away.

Limit television viewing. Watching scenes and coverage of school violence can revictimize children and deepen trauma.

Keep routines. The comfort of knowing what comes next might help ease feelings that everything is out of control.
Click here to read the full article.

10 college campus safety tips

Photo by beholdereye.

College students are preparing to head back to campus in a few short weeks. For many, this will be the first time living away from home and outside the watchful eye of parents or guardians. Here are ten tips for campus safety:

Keep keys secure and quickly accessible. Fumbling for keys and the bottom of a purse or backpack can leave you vulnerable for a few critical moments. Use a clip, lanyard or wristband to keep keys within easy reach at all times.

Maintain situational awareness. Always know what’s going on around you. Stay on well-lit, well-travelled walkways. Don’t text and walk, and certainly don’t text and drive.

Lock every door, every time. Lock the door to your room, suite, apartment, home and/or vehicle. Don’t prop common area doors open, and don’t forget to secure windows, too.

Get to know the campus and surrounding neighborhood. Know where emergency call stations are located. Check with local police to see what kinds of crime are reported, and where.

Buddy up. Stick with a trusted friend, especially when out and about in the evening and after dark.

Don’t share passwords to debit or credit card accounts, social media accounts or other secure accounts. Don’t reuse passwords between accounts, either.

Make sure friends, roommates and family have a copy of your schedule, so that you can be located quickly in the event of an emergency.

Don’t overshare on social media. Be cautious about posting details about where you are, and with whom. Wait until after you are safely home before posting those kinds of details.

Take a personal safety or self-defense class. Most campus safety departments or other student advocacy groups offer training – often free – through the year.

If you see something, say something. Report anything suspicious – untended bags or packages, threatening language or behavior, etc. – to security immediately.

Photo by beholdereye.

Marking an anniversary with education and safety.

On December 14, 2012, the unthinkable happened.

A gunman blazed his way through Sandy Hook elementary school, taking the lives of 26 people – including 20 children, and the adults who died trying to protect them.

Sandy Hook was not the first school shooting in the nation’s history, and it hasn’t been the last, but it seemed to shock the conscience of the nation in a profound way, perhaps because the victims were among the youngest.

Active shooter drills have been a part of the safety program for many years, even before Sandy Hook, alongside tornado drills and earthquake drills.

Between safety drills, television coverage of past and current incidents and conversations among peers are all bound to raise questions from children. What happened? Why? Could it happen to me? Am I safe?

Some ideas for talking to kids about gun violence:

Be honest. Answer questions honestly, with the age and maturity level of the child in mind. Allow them to take the lead, and listen to their questions carefully before responding. Pay attention to their non-verbal cues, especially in young children. They might need to draw pictures or act out what they are feeling using toys.

Reassure them that they are safe. Point out school safety features, like locked doors and resource officers. Reassure them that many adults – parents, teachers, police officers – are very committed to keeping them safe.

Take the opportunity to talk to them about how they can keep safe. Review safety drills. Remind them how important it is to remain calm and obey directions from teachers, especially in emergencies. Remind them, too, that if they “see something, say something.” If they see or hear anything that makes them uncomfortable about their safety, they should report it to a parent, teacher, counselor or other adult immediately.

For more ideas from the National Association of School Psychologists, please visit this link.

 

The bell is ringing – back to school!

Photo by beholdereye.

Photo by beholdereye.

By now, most kids are back (or almost back) to school and parents are breathing a sigh of relief that the flurry of shopping, enrolling, orienting, and scheduling is finally over. During the summer, we worked with several area schools to install or upgrade their HVAC systems in time for school to start, and we’re proud to say you can send your kids back knowing that they’ll be comfortable all year long with our reliable equipment and ongoing service standards. Just a couple of tips to help you get off to a good start:

Send a sweater. Like the schools we partner with, most schools will have had their temperature control systems calibrated or replaced during the summer break, which means they’ll be running at top frosty capacity when your little ones settle into class. Send a sweater or jacket with your child even if the weather outside is still blazing, so he or she can stay comfortable and focused on the teacher if the classroom is just a little too chilly.

And a water bottle. Make sure your little ones have a reusable water bottle clearly labeled with their name. Gym and recess in the summer heat means kids need to stay hydrated during the day, and a short stop at the water fountain might not do the trick. Even into the winter months, kids need to stay hydrated, and having water available will help them focus on the task at hand rather than running to the water fountain.

Schedule an Eye Exam. Especially if your child complained of headaches or trouble seeing during the summer, making sure they can see what the teacher is doing is critical to their success. If you suspect your child may have trouble seeing the whiteboard from the back of the room, speak with his or her teacher to request a seat closer to the front, and let them know that your child may be having vision trouble.

Teach Proper Backpack Use. More and more, kids of all ages arrive home at the end of the day with a seemingly impossible mountain of homework and a backpack loaded down with heavy books and notepads. Carrying a backpack improperly can cause your child to suffer back pain, joint problems, and muscle aches. Teach your child to always use both straps of his or her backpack to evenly distribute the weight and reduce muscle strain. If necessary, check with your school’s administration to see if they allow rolling backpacks.

Stay safe and comfortable with these easy tips, and have a healthy and happy school year!