Hilltop Montessori reviews safety procedures

By KATIE MCDOWELL/Lifestyles Editor

MT LAUREL – Hilltop Montessori School recently reviewed and made some updates to its school safety procedures.

“We’ve had a comprehensive crisis management plan in place for a decade,” Executive Director Michele Scott Wilensky said. “Given the incidences occurring in schools today, I think we would be remiss not to strive for perfection every day.”

Wilensky said the school invited the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to visit the school and review its safety procedures and building design. Deputies made two visits to the school this year.

“They have looked at everything and feel really good about the design,” she said.

Wilensky said the deputies made a few suggestions, including replacing glass panels in classroom doors with non-breakable material.

Wilensky said the school has a single point of access, which is monitored by the main office. The school also has a school-wide intercom system.

Part of the school’s budget is dedicated to staff professional development, including how to respond to a crisis. Each classroom has a teacher who is certified in American Red Cross first aid and CPR.

“That’s the most important thing, is the staff being trained,” Wilensky said.

Hilltop Montessori also started a crisis operations team in December 2012. The team would respond to any crisis affecting the school, such as a tornado, fire or school shooting. The team includes community representatives with a range of specialties, including an architect, retired fire department official and a former Department of Defense employee.

“They would come together and help if something happened,” Wilensky said.

Wilensky said she is confident in the school’s safety plan and thanked the sheriff’s department for visiting the campus.

“We want to maintain a friendly, inviting campus … but also maintain diligence,” she said.