Every few years I have the opportunity to work with Mike Dorn, one of the brightest stars in the universe of school safety planning. As far as I can tell, Mike never sleeps, which partially explains how much he gets done.
I first worked with Mike when the two of us were summoned by Bill Brenner, who was serving as director of the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities in Washington, D.C. at the time. Bill was pulling together all the school safety planning checklists he could find, from all across the country, and wanted help integrating them into one massive, comprehensive, self-guided checklist for schools, which I eventually spent quite a bit of time on. But after a few hours of work on that first day we headed back to the hotel. While waiting for the elevator I innocently asked Mike a simple question, like “how did you stumble onto this line of work?” not knowing what I was getting into. Mike, as it turns out, is very generous with his time and his insights. The elevator came and went. We sat in the lobby and chatted for a few hours—okay, I mostly listened—and that’s how our friendship began. Check out the clip below and you’ll get a taste of the passion and integrity he brings to his work.
In any case, Mike’s organization, Safe Havens International, (www.safehavensinternational.org ) is now the biggest organization of its kind, most likely anywhere on the planet. Their in-house expertise covers almost everything imaginable about school safety, from design to crisis planning and training, but when he thinks it’ll help he doesn’t hesitate to reach out to other consultants in related fields to make sure he delivers the absolute best service possible to a school district. He takes pleasure in adding value to his services whenever possible.
Such was the case recently, when SHI was recruited to provide a comprehensive review of a huge, fast-growing urban school district in much too short a period of time. To pull it off, he supplemented his own staff with far-flung partners from across the country, including myself along with a sharp team of architects out of Texas– Parkhill, Smith and Cooper (www.team-psc.com ). After Mike’s in-house team had already inspected local facilities with fine-toothed combs, reviewing crisis plans and providing extensive training, our follow-up group spent a week chatting with staff and sweeping through schools, looking for ways to enhance their facility designs on into the future.
The result was a highly detailed guide to exactly what to fix and how to fix it. Equally important, a strong, supportive relationship with the district was born; as questions arise in the weeks to come, they can rest assured that we’re all happy to communicate further. Overall, I think a district would be hard pressed to find a more comprehensive, full-service, constructive audit regarding school safety.