Someone helped me when I first started working in School Safety

by | Aug 4, 2021 | Gary's Blog

Someone helped me
when I first started working
in School Safety

Which is why
I do the same…

Long before Mike Rowe was inspiring us with his show, Returning the Favor, I had my own experience with Michael Dorn. It was 2008 and our school district was awarded the Readiness and Emergency Management in Schools (REMS) Grant. I began teaching in our district in 1982, earned an MS in Educational Leadership in 1988, and to supplement my income, started working part-time as a Police Officer in 1990. Because of my background in Law Enforcement, I was hired to monitor the grant, write safety plans, work with First Responders, and conduct training and exercises.

I moved from the classroom to the District Service Center and before I even knew my own office phone number, I received a call from the president of one of the unions representing district employees. I was told that now that I was in charge of safety for the district and it was my responsibility to make sure the employees were safe. When I asked if the district was unsafe, I was told it was. When I asked why the district was unsafe, I was told it was my job to find out why it was unsafe. It was my first week on the job and I did not know what to do.

I knew of Michael from my research on School Safety. I had been volunteering for safety committees early in my career. If School Safety was like the music industry, Michael would be a rock star. I called Safe Havens International, thinking I would get an administrative assistant, but it was Michael who answered the phone. I explained who I was, what I was doing, and asked for his help. Within 10 minutes, Michael explained to me everything I needed for my question. He also said, “If you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to give me a call or send me an email.” I told myself if I ever retire and started my own business, I am going to be like Michael Dorn.

Over the years we have traded emails and calls. I met Michael in person a few years ago at a conference and shared my story and gratitude for his help. Although technically we are competitors, it is not how we operate. I have come in second on RFPs to Safe Havens International and I have gotten jobs because of Michael’s recommendations. Sadly, in the field of School Safety, there is plenty of work to go around.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to speak at School Safety conferences around the country. I have worked with Campus Safety Magazine and organizations like School Messenger and LENSEC to deliver free webinars schools on topics related to School Safety. Because of the example set by Michael, I conclude all of my presentations with the same thing he told me, “If you ever have any questions, do not hesitate to give me a call or send me an email.” About three or four times a year, someone takes me up on my offer.

If you ever need someone to bounce an idea, had a situation happen and you want to discuss what your After Action Review (AAR) should include, or you just have that question you find the answer to on Google, please do not hesitate to give me a call or send me an email.

I am always looking to return the favor.

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