‘Protecting Our K-12 Students’ Focus of Event Hosted by Gardner-Webb at Charlotte Center

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Educators Dialogue With Public Safety and Security Professionals

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—School personnel are charged with keeping millions of children safe during the school day. To assist regional school systems in developing active shooter response plans, Gardner-Webb University partnered with Atrium Health (Charlotte, N.C.), Charlotte Fire Department, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security to provide a free forum. Held at the GWU Charlotte Center on Oct. 12, “Protecting Our K-12 Students” gave principals, teachers, counselors and administrators the opportunity to hear the latest research and dialogue with public safety and security professionals.

“We are honored to provide a forum for school leaders to collaborate with members of local and government agencies in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to enhance student safety,” shared Dr. Catherine Burr, associate provost for Adult and Distance Education, who helped coordinate the program. “Our partnership with expert panelists enhanced the discussion focused on educational safety in our community.”

The keynote speaker was Bryan Warren, corporate security director with Atrium Health and a consultant to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Warren received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from GWU in 2012. He also holds a Master of Business Administration and has over 29 years of healthcare security experience.

He presented findings from the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, which examined 28 mass shooting incidents in 2017. These attacks were acts of workplace violence, domestic violence, school-based violence or terrorism. “Similar themes were observed in the backgrounds of the perpetrators,” Warren noted. “Over three-quarters of perpetrators made concerning communications and/or elicited concern from others prior to carrying out their attacks.”

After Warren’s remarks, a panel featuring Maj. Steven Brochu of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, Chief Kent Davis of the Charlotte Fire Department and District Commander Wilfred Horrach of the Department of Homeland Security, answered questions related to trainings, drills, mental health awareness, and communication. David Rhew of the N.C. Public Transportation Association moderated the panel discussion.

Guests and GWU staff at the “Protecting Our K-12 Students” forum included, from left, David Rhew, N.C. Public Transportation Association, moderator; Kent Davis, Charlotte Fire Department; Kristen Setzer, GWU vice president of enrollment management; Dr. Catherine Burr, associate provost of Adult and Distance Education; Caroline van der Poel, GWU admissions counselor; Maj. Steven Brochu, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department; Annie Freeman, GWU assistant vice president for undergraduate admissions; Stephen Pickard, GWU adjunct instructor; District Commander Wilfred Horrach, Department of Homeland Security; and Dr. Anthony Negbenebor, GWU professor of economics.

Among the 45 in attendance were representatives from Cleveland County (N.C.) Schools, Pinnacle Classical Academy (Shelby, N.C.), Isothermal Community College (Spindale, N.C.), East Albemarle (N.C.) Elementary, Carolina Day School (Asheville, N.C.), Gaston County (N.C.) Schools, Alexander County (N.C.) Schools, Trinity Christian School (Rutherfordton, N.C.), and British International School and Northside Christian Academy (Charlotte).

Robert Brown, headmaster at Pinnacle, appreciated the opportunity to receive the latest data and analysis. “It was incredible to hear professionals explain the step-by-step process—what they are seeing and how you train your staff,” Brown observed, “and to have it mesh with what we have been doing.”

Jackie Lalor, school nurse and director of operations at Carolina Day School, agreed. “One of the things that has been helpful for me is the reinforcement of all the research I’ve been doing the past year, and the way that we are adapting and changing our crisis response procedures based on the newest information,” she shared.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a place where Christian compassion meets critical thinking. A private, Christian, liberal arts university, Gardner-Webb emphasizes a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics to prepare students to become effective servant-leaders within the global community. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.