JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A new tool is helping teachers, administrators and school resource officers better prepare for school threats while keeping students safe.
When parents said their kids off to school, they want them to be safe and educated. For a student, it can be hard to learn if they don’t feel safe. This new system being offered to districts across Missouri is designed to help school workers think on their feet.
“People don’t understand that with K-12 education, every teacher in America today is the emergency manager of their classroom,” chief operating officer of the Missouri School Boards’ Association K-12 Safety Division John McDonald said. “They are the first responder of the hallway. That doesn’t mean that they are going to tackle a gunman or shoot a gunman, but it’s their responsibility to protect their kids.”
It’s a situation no parent wants to think about, a threat at their child’s school. The best way to prepare for a threat is with practice and training exercises.
This new Ti Training Recon System brings to life roughly 1,400 scenarios from an angry student to a lunchroom fight and an active shooter.
“Every single scenario that you see has happened in a school,” McDonald said. “A lot of the scenarios are really just deescalating and having a conversation and having conversations later in debriefing like what did you do right, what did you do wrong?”
During the simulation video, trainees can hear students screaming, fighting between a teacher and a student and the sound of gunshots.
An initiative through the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA) is the Council for School Safety Leadership, which includes the Center for Education Safety.
In a world where school threats are happening on a regular basis, McDonald said Missouri is at the forefront of this type of training.
“What this system does more than anything is it helps you make good decisions and that’s really what we want in that moment in time,” McDonald said. “Making the best decisions that you can to protect your kids, yourself, to stay safe during a threat, during a crisis, whatever that is.”
Glen Moore is the threat assessment coordinator for the Center for Education Safety and also a law enforcement officer. Friday, he showed off what the simulator is capable of, like trying to calm down upset parents or stop a domestic situation in the school hallway.
“Police, come towards my voice,” Moore said. “Drop the knife, everybody get out, everybody run behind me.”
Before bringing this new system to Missouri, McDonald spent years as the director of safety at Jefferson County School District in Colorado, which includes Columbine High School. He was hired after 1999 shooting when two teenagers shot and killed 13 people, wounding more than 20 others to build a safety program.
His work today goes beyond the borders of the Show-Me State. McDonald also provides support, crisis management support in Missouri and around the country for districts that experience tragedy.
“In my career, I’ve responded to seven school shootings around the country,” McDonald said.
One of those shootings happened at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School (CVPA) in St. Louis City last fall where a gunman shot and killed a student and a teacher. Since last October, McDonald has been helping CVPA and the school district with recovery, like mental health services and training staff members.
“The work that St. Louis schools have been doing, that’s a heavy lift,” McDonald said. “They are working hard to help their kids and their staff.”
In November, Moore said MSBA will work with Ti Training to develop Missouri’s own scenarios from what teachers across the state have seen before.
The system costs $28,000 and the Center for Education Safety was able to purchase three total simulators with the money appropriated to them from the General Assembly. McDonald said there is no cost to districts to use the system and the training can be brought to you.