Adrenaline-inducing scenarios drive safety lessons home for teachers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Public School District has seen its share of trouble. As parents are getting students ready to go back to school, the district says it's doing its part to focus on security and prevent safety breaches before they happen.

Teachers spend their time instructing students in the classroom, but Wednesday, the men and women were on the receiving end of lessons that could save lives.

"We have to be realistic about what the potential hazards could be and the goal is to create a safe haven in each of our schools. We know that every school, every school in this country is vulnerable in some way, and the more we can be proactive and to guard against that, we've turned the odds in our favor," KCPS Superintendent R. Stephen Green, Ed.D. said.

A large presentation and break out classroom sessions included the basics, but it was adrenaline-inducing, hands-on scenarios, that really drove the lessons home. The district hired Strategos International for the training.

"As we promised, we were going to work with an outside agency. This is a part of a bigger piece of our overall goal to really upgrade our efforts to be more proactive in the area of addressing student needs in terms of safety and security," Dr. Green said.

Dr. Green says the company has worked with district to conduct one-on-one interviews with principals from each of the KCPS schools. He said they've also done extensive walking tours of schools, looking for blind spots and problem areas.

"Each building has its own kind of fingerprint, or DNA and it needs to be addressed and customized. The plan is to be customized to that particular building and that particular leadership style. Tightening up that is going to be a big part of what we do across the district. Very personalized, very customized to what they need. I think that makes the difference, particularly in this day and age where anything can happen," he said.

"What we're trying to do is activate the sympathetic nervous system because that's what's going to be activated in real life and that's where they have elevated heart rate, elevated blood pressure, pupils constrict, vision goes away. We're trying to create that in simulation training. They learn to operate under the influence of that adrenaline dump, then they become much more effective if God forbid the crisis does occur," The president of Strategos, Vaughn Baker, said.

This type of training is required by the state, but Baker believes district leaders are actively engaged because of a genuine desire to improve.

"That's one of the things that I've been really happy to see is a true passion for improvement, not just for safety and security, but for all phases of the district. It's not just trying to check a box. It's a passion for improvement and a passion for excellence is really one of the core values they're trying to strive for," Baker said.

All teachers, administrators, and support staff went through the training. KCPS schools resume classes on Monday.