By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Retired teacher Mark Davidson thinks one important factor will make schools much safer during a crisis – educators trained to meet the threat.
“School violence is an escalating problem,” said Davidson, who led a two-day training for Lee County School District administrators this week. “The problems of the 21st century classroom are much more severe than they used to be. Therefore the training that teachers receive must prepare them to match those problems.”
Davidson retired as a Saltillo High School English teacher in May with more than 30 years of experience. He’s also in his 34th year as a martial arts instructor and is a certified National Rifle Association pistol, rifle and shotgun instructor.
Shortly after the 1997 Pearl High School shooting, he developed a training module for teachers called TeachSmart: Prevent and has since trained more than 4,000 educators. The Crisis Response Team (CRT) training he led this week is a more advanced two-day, 10-hour course for those who have completed the program.
CRT training includes lessons on fight separation, restraint and striking techniques to neutralize an intruder, weapons and hand-to-hand defense. The idea, Davidson said, is for a select group of trained educators to be able to serve as intermediaries between the time an incident occurs and when law enforcement arrives.
“In that interim, lives are lost,” he said.
This week’s training is part of a larger project in which Davidson will train 140 Lee County educators in CRT. Those who volunteer to receive the training will form crisis response teams on their respective campuses.
“We’re doing it to be prepared if we were to ever have a crisis situation,” said Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks.
On Friday, Davidson taught the educators about using sticks and clubs to fend off intruders and ways to disarm guns.
“In any situation, if teachers would have had these skills, lives would have been saved,” said Saltillo High School Principal Tim Devaughn. “We want to save lives.”
Shannon High School Principal Bill Rosenthal said it will be helpful to form crisis teams. Twenty Shannon teachers will be trained next week.
School districts can schedule Davidson’s training by contacting the Bailey-Kirkland Education Group.