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Herkimer BOCES summit deals with ‘full range of school safety’

Aug. 28, 2018



Dr. Joanne Joseph speaking during Safety Summit


Psychologist Dr. Joanne Joseph talks about adverse childhood experiences during her keynote speech at the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School Safety Summit on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer.






HERKIMER – Mental health, school resource officers, crisis response plans and more were discussed during the recent Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School Safety Summit.

The Safety in Our Schools Task Force was reactivated earlier this year following a meeting at Herkimer BOCES among local school and law enforcement officials, and one of the first things the Task Force decided to do was have the School Safety Summit, Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Sandra Sherwood said, during the summit.

“I know this is a busy time of year, but we need to come together to focus on the safety of our students,” she said.

On Thursday, Aug. 23, about 50 people from Herkimer BOCES, component school districts, local law enforcement and local organizations attended the summit, which was organized by the Herkimer BOCES Health and Safety Service. The event was held at the Herkimer BOCES William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer.

“We’re trying to get the full range of school safety,” Herkimer BOCES Health and Safety Service Coordinator Adam Hutchinson said. “We wanted to get people from across schools and across community agencies and have everyone come together.”

In addition to school officials and presenters, among the attendees were representatives from the Herkimer Police Department, Herkimer County Probation Office and Herkimer County Sheriff’s Office – as well as state Assemblyman Brian Miller.

“This is very important to us,” Miller said, during the summit. “It’s very important to me. Like I said, I’ve got a 14-year-old, and I want him coming home from school each day.”

The keynote speaker was psychologist Dr. Joanne Joseph, who spoke about the study of ACEs (adverse childhood experiences) and how being chronically traumatized as a child up to age 18 can change the way someone is able to handle various situations such as stress throughout a lifetime.

“We now know that these ACE factors influence people both directly and indirectly,” she said. “It’s costly, and it’s also deadly.”

Examples of adverse childhood experiences include physical, emotional and sexual abuse; having parents that were divorced or struggled with alcohol, drugs or mental illness; not having enough food or clean clothes or feeling like nobody in your family loved and supported you.

The most important time for children as far as ACE factors is from the ages of 0-5, Joseph said.

“That’s when the brain is developing the most, and that’s why it has the biggest impact,” she said. “We have to protect children during this most vulnerable time.”

Unconditional love and support is very important for children, Joseph said. Studies have found that the ACEs’ risk factors can all be offset by the presence of a stable, caring adult in a child’s life.

“For us to do a good job with these kids, it takes a community,” she said.

Vendors were also onsite throughout the School Safety Summit for attendees to visit with – including Herkimer County Mental Health, Catholic Charities, Raptor Technologies and Herkimer Industries, the employment division of Arc Herkimer. Herkimer Industries National Business Development Director Suzanne Bakiewicz also briefly spoke to guests about Wall-Mounted Bleeding Control Stations that Herkimer Industries produces. Herkimer Industries earlier this year donated one of the “Stop the Bleed” kits to Herkimer BOCES.

Other speakers during the summit were Sue Cooper, Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES child life specialist and crisis consultant; Amy Barrows, program director of the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team through The Neighborhood Center Inc., and Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory and Sgt. Torrey Sitterly, who is commander of the Herkimer Police Special Response Team.

Jory talked about how things have gone with one school resource officer assigned to the Herkimer high school and one to the elementary school. He said the officers have built positive relationships with students and have contributed in various ways – including helping with parent issues and safety plans.

Sitterly responded to questions and spoke about training opportunities and crisis response drills that Herkimer police are available to provide to schools. One thing he sometimes does is have someone come in wearing full SWAT gear to make students feel more comfortable with it the way they would seeing a firefighter walk in wearing gear, he said.

“It’s apples and oranges a little bit with firemen and policemen, but we’re still there to help,” Sitterly said. “We’re still the good guys.”

Cooper spoke about the importance of crisis response plans and making sure schools are on the same page to support each other during a crisis. Having a plan that you can refer back to can be a calming influence during a crisis – along the lines of how you’re supposed to put on your oxygen mask before helping others during an airplane emergency, she said.

“You need to take care of yourself in order to take care of the students,” she said.

Cooper said she is a supporter of the School Safety Summit as a way for schools to discuss these vital issues.

“I think it’s a great idea,” she said.

Barrows spoke about warning signs for mental health problems and suicidal behavior and ways to talk to students. The also talked about the services MCAT provides such as mental health counselors to work with schools, safety/risk assessments and various other resources to support schools.

“The whole point here is to have that kind of awareness, have that prevention and have those resources,” she said.

The School Safety Summit is an effective way to get schools, law enforcement and others together to talk about student safety, Barrows said.

“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “It’s something I hope every school does.”

 

Psychologist Dr. Joanne Joseph talks about adverse childhood experiences during her keynote speech at the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School Safety Summit on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer:

Dr. Joanne Joseph speaking during Safety Summit


Dr. Joanne Joseph speaking during Safety Summit



 

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES District Superintendent Sandra Sherwood speaks to attendees during the Herkimer BOCES School Safety Summit on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer:

Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Sandra Sherwood speaking during Safety Summit

Herkimer BOCES District Superintendent Sandra Sherwood speaking during Safety Summit


 

State Assemblyman Brian Miller speaks during the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School Safety Summit on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer:

State Assemblyman Brian Miller speaking during Safety Summit

State Assemblyman Brian Miller speaking during Safety Summit



 

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Health and Safety Service Coordinator Adam Hutchinson speaks to attendees during the Herkimer BOCES School Safety Summit on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer:

Herkimer BOCES Health and Safety Service Coordinator Adam Hutchinson speaking during Safety Summit


 

Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory speaks during the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School Safety Summit on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer:

Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory speaking during Safety Summit

Herkimer Police Chief Michael Jory speaking during Safety Summit


 

Sgt. Torrey Sitterly, commander of the Herkimer Police Special Response Team, speaks during the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School Safety Summit on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer:

Herkimer Police Sgt. Torrey Sitterly speaking during Safety Summit

Herkimer Police Sgt. Torrey Sitterly speaking during Safety Summit


 

Amy Barrows, program director of the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team through The Neighborhood Center Inc., speaks during the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School Safety Summit on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer:

MCAT program director Amy Barrows speaking during Safety Summit

MCAT program director Amy Barrows speaking during Safety Summit


 

Sue Cooper, Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES child life specialist and crisis consultant, speaks during the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES School Safety Summit on Thursday, Aug. 23, at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer:

Sue Cooper speaking during Safety Summit

Sue Cooper speaking during Safety Summit