SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – A woman whose 7-year-old daughter was killed in the Sandy Hook mass school shooting is in San Antonio for a national active-shooter training conference.
Michele Gay travels across the country, talking about how to improve school safety. She shares with audiences her heartbreaking experience on that tragic day in December of 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut.
“I was a stay-at-home mom in this quaint New England town with my three girls, getting them ready for school and another fun day,” said Gay.
She dropped them off at school, not knowing that would be the last time she would see her 7-year-old daughter, Josephine Grace, alive. A 20-year-old man shot and killed 26 children and staff members, including Gay’s daughter.
Gay is the co-founder of Safe and Sound Schools.
“There’s a tremendous amount that we need to be doing in terms of mental health, programming, education, training and looking at the physical plant itself to see how we can make it more secure,” Gay told KTSA News. “We also have to look at how we’re training and preparing multiple agencies — police and fire and mental health professionals.”
Gay, who’s a former educator, says having armed teachers can help, but that’s not the total solution.
“I would have preferred to have a sworn officer of the law who was armed and trained to respond, should there be a crisis at the school,” said Gay.
Safe and Sound Schools does not advocate for gun control legislation.
“Our mission is purely school safety. It’s not about legislative solutions–left, right or otherwise,” Gay told KTSA News. “It’s about what we can do today from our many different disciplines and perspectives, to push up our sleeves and get this job done to make sure that our kids and our teachers are safe every day in our schools.”
Technology plays a big role in making our schools safe.
“When we look at safety tools and technology, those are there to help enhance the basic practices and operations and the physical safety of our buildings,” said Gay.
After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary that took the life of her young daughter, Gay is much more aware of her surroundings, making sure she has communication capabilities and knowing where the exits are.
“It does change the way you walk through life,” said Gay.
She was the keynote speaker Tuesday at the National Fire Protection Association Conference and Expo, which wraps up Thursday at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.