Salute Yourself

It’s Graduation Time.

My social media is full of pictures of three and four years olds smiling at end-of-year chagigot! And, I confess to getting a bit teary eyed when I see more “serious” middle school and high school graduates.

Day school commencement speeches share a common theme. They laud students’ accomplishments, reassuring them of their ability to achieve goals, effect changes, and live as creative, responsible, Jewish leaders.

Yet, too often when we talk to ourselves, we are less generous. Of course, when we reflect upon our performance, we need to assess realistically (and sometimes harshly) so that we can move forward successfully. We need to enhance, tweak, slash, discontinue, create, or maintain appropriately.

I’m simply suggesting that right now you give yourself a break! During this end-of-the-year period, extend a bit of generosity to yourselves. Before you close up your office, sit back and recall your successes. Jot down some bullet points. Don’t fear – this is not just an exercise in self-congratulation. File the paper with your August to-dos. We’ll be back in August to strategize!

Meanwhile, enjoy the coming weeks! Don’t forget your sunscreen.

Contact me via email or call me at 516.569.8070 to schedule a free introductory chat to discuss how your messages can be more compelling.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Better Safe then Sorry! – part I

Unexpected Occurences

As you probably know, I am a New Yorker. That means that lately I’ve been feeling cold, very cold. I yearn to go outside without layers of clothing, boots, scarves, and gloves. I‘m finding it challenging to appreciate the fleeting beauty of pristine snow falling because I know it will morph into piles of snow that need shoveling, slush, and traffic conditions. But as my mother-in-law always told me: you can’t control the weather!

Those words made me think about other things that we can’t control. I often advise people who are in varied states of anxiety or even panic about situations beyond their control, that they can control their reactions. But – as school administrators you can, in fact, assert control over unexpected potentially dangerous situations. You can prepare for emergencies.

Sure, you have your annual fire and student emergency cards. But how prepared are you? Are students, staff, and parents all familiar with your clearly articulated, comprehensive emergency plans? A self-assessment is a good first step. 

A meeting with a security professional may be a critical second step. I asked Dr. Joshua Gleis co-founder and vice president of Slingshot Security, LLC to share his five top tips for day schools, read on to learn more!

Click here to read Better Safe then Sorry! – part II

Should you have any questions about marketing, resource development, assessing present materials, or any of my day school services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Better Safe then Sorry! – part II

Top Security Tips

Five top security tips for day schools, provided by Dr. Joshua Gleis co-founder and vice president of Slingshot Security, LLC:

Operational Security – Focus on your human capital, not your financial capital
You can have the best bomb proof doors in the world, but if your staff leave the doors open or unmonitored they are all worthless. Too many institutions spend money they raised or received for grants on products they do not really need or are not that important. The best move is to focus first and foremost on operational security – it is the cheapest and most effective use of your resources. It requires little money (see #2), as it focuses on training staff and students how to identify and properly handle potential threats before they become emergencies, and how to properly act in an emergency if one does occur. Improving day-to-day security operations, running drills for staff and students, ensuring security guards are following proper procedures and protocols are all important. Having a solid risk assessment that serves as a blueprint and roadmap of your immediate and long term operational and target hardening needs is an important first step. Developing a solid operational plan is also critical.

Do it Right the First Time – Hire a Professional
Too many times I have come to schools and found that they have squandered their money on security products they either did not need or were not relevant for their facility. Take CCTV security cameras for example. They can and do play an important role, but one must do a cost-benefit analysis of the usefulness on spending the bulk of a DHS grant on security cameras when there are other high priority products and services you may need. Remember that these cameras are predominantly used for investigations after an attack takes place. CCTV systems will not deter most active shooters, terrorists, or other deadly attackers. Even actively monitored cameras often miss crimes being committed or are discovered too late – look up the statistics for yourself. Too often the CCTV systems purchased are the wrong systems for the facility at-hand and are positioned in incorrect locations, which is why a complete risk assessment outlining exactly what you need is so key. A do-it-yourself or free law enforcement risk assessment is definitely better than nothing, but there’s only so much you can learn off the internet, and only so much law enforcement can give you for free. I’ve had many clients that were advised to have blast proof window film installed on their windows, but they were not told what thickness or how it should be installed. The result has been that they were sold the wrong products – safety film, not blast film – which is too thin to provide intruder prevention or true blast film qualities. The result: living with a false sense of security and money needlessly spent. Hire a trusted professional with a proven track record – it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Spend your money wisely – Purchase security services and products with a specific purpose in mind: Saving lives
Often times the simplest products are those that are most critical. Too many schools conduct lock down drills without having working locks on their classroom doors. Or they buy high-tech security products that automatically disengage, by law, by the simple pull of a fire alarm. Focus on products that will most immediately save lives. Then build from there. Having a solid access control system, a working Public Address (PA) system, and proper blast proof window film are some examples of good security products.

You get what you pay for – Not all security guards are created equal
A casual observer should not know what guard is armed and what guard is unarmed. Security guards should be trained in counter-surveillance. They should mix up their routine and conduct visible patrols throughout the day. They should often be standing outside, not sitting inside. Don’t spend your money on a security guard just for the sake of saying you have “security.” If you have a doorman-type security guard, you may want to consider a better use of your money by investing in a good access control system and hiring better guards during more critical parts of the day.

Increase Your Awareness and Cooperation with Law Enforcement
We are blessed to live in a country where you know you can rely on law enforcement to reply effectively in the event of an emergency. But there is much you can do to assist law enforcement. Security is everyone’s responsibility, and the more reporting you provide of suspicious activity, and cooperation you show to your local, county, and state law enforcement agencies, the better they can help you. Having your local police and fire officials be familiar with your facility in the event of an emergency can literally mean the difference between life and death. Consider opening up your facility on off-hours or quiet days to these local departments. Make sure officials have updated blueprints of your buildings and grounds. The more functions and drills they hold at your school, and the more information that they have, the better they will be able to respond in the event of an emergency.

Dr. Joshua Gleis is co-founder and vice president of Slingshot Security, LLC; a boutique security consulting firm that specializes in operational training, security design, political risk analysis, risk and threat assessments, and perimeter security products. Slingshot’s clients run the gamut from schools and houses of worship, to government agencies, politicians, investors, and investigative and security firms. Joshua is the security consultant and recommended vendor for a number of cooperatives that encompass over 300 participatory organizations.

Joshua is the author of Withdrawing Under Fire: Lessons Learned from Islamist Insurgencies (Potomac Books, Inc.), and lead co-author of Hezbollah & Hamas: Politics, Terrorism & Irregular Warfare in the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Johns Hopkins University Press, Fall 2012). He received his PhD and Masters in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy – the nation’s oldest school of international affairs. Joshua has published multiple articles in books and journals, and has advised U.S. government agencies on topics related to counter-insurgencies, counter-terrorism, and public diplomacy.

Click here to read Better Safe then Sorry! – part I

Should you have any questions about marketing, resource development, assessing present materials, or any of my day school services, please feel free to send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Healthy Days Ahead – part I

Promoting Health

Last month I attended the Jewish Communal Service Association (JCSA) conference. This group of dedicated professionals whose wildly diverse yet firm dedication to Judaism guides their lives and professions, always energizes me. The conference’s theme was Our Value(s) @ Work: In the Field, With Each Other, and For Ourselves.

I was fascinated by the decision to devote the lunchtime panel to a discussion of health issues from varied perspectives. Health issues? Not marketing, collaborative management, understanding generational shifts, or any host of other concepts that would affect most, if not all, of the attendees? Actually for a group of hundreds of dynamic Jewish professionals focusing on values, nothing could have made more sense! While the discussion included key points about social corporate responsibility, the bottom line was that corporations / institutions / employers who are committed to Jewish values should put their policies where their mouths are. Once we acknowledge the Jewish mandate to care for our bodies… our policies, as Jewish day schools, MUST facilitate good health.

Click here to read Healthy Days Ahead – part II

Should you have any questions about creating a cohesive, consistent marketing, recruiting, retention, and/or resource development plan, please send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman

Healthy Days Ahead – part II

Healthy Basics
So… to add to summer homework, I humbly suggest that you think about your school and health.

Surely, you can check the boxes and then some. You have:

 Immunization and health forms

 Emergency contact numbers

 Lice checks before school and after vacations

 Policies about children returning to school after illness

 Nutrition Week

Healthy Strides
But – after you check off these health basics, do your day-to-day policies encourage good health?

Do you still have candy and soda machines?
When you choose a student fundraising activity do you opt for a candy sale or a walkathon?
Do you encourage students and teachers (if it is feasible) to walk or ride bicycles to school?

Nigel Savage of HAZON shared that in his office, they don’t only advocate bicycle riding – as a healthy and green transportation option – they provide indoor bicycle racks!

Healthy Standards
Other health promoting ideas through possible systemic change:

Do you encourage teachers to use the stairs not the elevators?
Do you provide extra physical activity opportunities for students and teachers to exercise – or at least walk around the building?
Do you have stress-reducing systems in place to mentor new teachers and provide continued support for veteran instructors?
Do you offer teachers decent heath care benefits and sufficient sick days so they don’t come to work when ill?

So, while you are relaxing on the beach, with sunscreen of course, take a few minutes to analyze your schools policies in terms of promoting good health.

Enjoy the rest of the summer… in good health!

Click here to read Healthy Days Ahead – part I

Should you have any questions about creating a cohesive, consistent marketing, recruiting, retention, and/or resource development plan, please send me an email or call me at 516.569.8070.

Kol tuv,

Candace Plotsker-Herman