Q: Hi, Heather, welcome to CENTEGIX! We’d love to hear about your background and career path.
Heather: Thank you so much. I’m very excited to be here at CENTEGIX!
I’ve worked for nearly 30 years in the education market in both K-12 and higher education. I got my start while still in college working for Microsoft and caught the technology bug. This was in the early 90s when Microsoft was just getting started so it was super exciting to be in the thick of it. I quickly became involved in local education both at the community college and high school levels, always in technology. My career path led me to several different roles, including a high school CTE teacher, a community college instructor, small business owner, sales, marketing and product management. All positions with a variety of education technology companies and organizations in curriculum, assessment, digital learning, learning management systems, and now school safety.
Q: I’d love to hear a little bit more about your time in the classroom as a teacher and how that experience relates to your work in school safety?
Heather: I fell into a role in school safety 2 years ago when I landed a job at another safety company. I initially made the shift from curriculum to safety because I fully believe in the mission. I’ve learned so much in the past 2 years about school safety, especially about the lack of safety solutions we have in our schools. It has honestly surprised me how little we’ve done to improve safety in our schools since Columbine occurred over 20 years ago. I was a high school teacher shortly after Columbine, and unfortunately never felt safe during those years. Not only was I in a dangerous location, but the schools I taught in had little to no safety protocols and training, unsecured and unsafe buildings, with no response when there was a threat or an emergency in our classrooms. I had many students struggling, and for several of them, my classroom was their last chance before heading to juvenile centers. One of my students was even on house arrest, wearing an ankle bracelet to class. And as much as the fear of a school shooting was always on my mind, there were everyday emergencies where we teachers wanted to know help would come if we needed it. Unfortunately, even in those situations, we often didn’t get the help we desired, and were left to handle the incidents on our own.
I also completed a Master’s in Counseling Psychology degree about 10 years ago and had the opportunity to go back into the schools and work with very troubled kids as a mental health counselor. During this experience, I had some very close calls with students while working with them alone on different school campuses. Again, I often didn’t feel sage didn’t feel safe and knew if the next student that threatened my life or others acted on it, there would be no way for me to request immediate help.
I carry those experiences with me every day working in school safety, as it’s now my mission to keep our teachers, staff, and students safe in our schools.
Q: As you mentioned, you transitioned to school safety about 2 years ago now. Tell us about when you first learned of CENTEGIX and what was your first impression?
Heather: I’ve discovered that the school safety market is quite small and still in its infancy; more signs that we still have much work to do in the space. So, it was easy to get to know the other school safety companies while working with school districts across the country and seeing them at various conferences and school safety events. I’ve had the good fortune to work in many states across the country, one in particular being Florida. Florida has worked tirelessly to pass school safety legislation in the past 3-4 years, due in part to the Marjorie Stoneman Douglass school shooting. One law passed was Alyssa’s Law, where all districts in Florida are required to install silent alarm systems that summon immediate help from first responders in an emergency.
This is where I first learned of CENTEGIX, as they were listed as an approved vendor in Florida for Alyssa’s Law. I was very impressed when first hearing about CENTEGIX’s CrisisAlert solution, because several school districts I was working with were telling me about it. Word of mouth is everything in K12, so it was at that point when I knew CENTEGIX was going to be a leader in the school safety market.
Question: Now that you’ve joined the company, we’re so excited to have you on the CENTEGIX team. What really drove you to make a move to the team?
After taking a deeper look, I saw how CrisisAlert solved one of the biggest issues we face in school safety; an immediate response to emergencies that teachers and staff can rely on and aren’t afraid of using. The fact that it is a wearable solution that locates a person down to the classroom they are in is a huge game changer! When I realized that CENTEGIX figured out a way to combine hardware and software, creating a real life, daily, usable solution for our teachers and staff to help them to feel safe, it was an easy decision for me to make the move.
Unfortunately, we must also be prepared for the next school shooting. As a parent of 3, I think about this daily, hoping and praying that it doesn’t happen in my community. Until the day comes where these violent events stop, we must arm our schools with safety solutions to protect our kids. I want my community and my children to feel that help is on the way when they most need it; this is what ultimately drove me to make the move to CENTEGIX.
Question: You’ll be working with schools in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Anything else you would like to add, or tell your schools?
In my role, it’s extremely important to stay up to date with school safety legislation and mandates as it greatly impacts the work we do. Not only is it important for me to understand it, but it’s just as important for me to help educate my school partners, as they often struggle to keep up with it. I’m super grateful to live in Texas where legislation has been passed and school safety is a number one priority. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas who are all also working on important school safety initiatives supporting our schools.
Alyssa’s Law was introduced last year in Texas and nationally. We can feel the wave coming across the US, and we will be here, ready with the CrisisAlert solution to support your schools to understand what this legislation means for you.
I’m proud to work for a company like CENTEGIX and what we’ve accomplished thus far, but we still have much to do as a country in improving the safety in our schools. I’m truly honored every day to be a part of the effort.