P.S. 207 wins emergency preparedness award

P.S. 207 accepts OEM’s award recently: (l-r) Katelyn James, Youth Outreach Coordinator and emergency management superhero Ready Girl; Christina Farrell, NYC Office of Emergency Management deputy commissioner; Yvette Sy, Department of Education deputy superintendent; Tara O’Brien, P.S. 207 principal assigned; John Shea, DOE CEO; and Andrea Feldman, assistant principal.
Photo courtesy of OEM

A local school has become the second in the borough to win a prestigious award for emergency preparedness.

P.S. 207 in Kingsbridge took home the NYC Emergency Management Department’s and the NYC Department of Education’s Ready School of the Year Award for being a school with an excellent commitment to emergency preparedness.

The school won the award for their response to a flood in their kitchen earlier in the school year, said Katelyn James, DER’s Ready New York Program specialist, who focuses on youth outreach.

“We give out this award once a year to the school that we feel best embodies the spirit of preparedness,” said James, adding that the citywide, annual award was begun in the 2009-10 school year.

P.S. 23 in Belmont has previously won the award, she said.

The flood in November 2016 at P.S. 207 required a complete evacuation, and the school had a dedicated response team of staff in place, along with ‘Go Bags’ of essential items.

The school, serving young children, was able to successfully relocate to another nearby school.

After they were securely back in their own building, the students wrote about the importance of emergency preparedness, incorporating the experience into the English Language Arts curriculum, said James.

The Ready New York Program for Kids visited the school in February, and conducted an assembly and presentation like they did at dozens of schools in the borough this year, she said.

At that time, program personnel were impressed at the assembly by the students and teachers at the school, and their level of engagement in terms of the presentation on emergency preparedness.

They were also impressed by the school’s actions immediately following the flood, she said, including the fact that the school was ready with Go Bags, which the department advises everyone to have in case they have to leave an area quickly.

“Anything you have to take with you in case you have to leave in a flash (belongs in a Go Bag),” she said.

In an educational institution, a Go Bag could include contact information for students’ parents or guardians, medicines for individual children such as inhalers or a first-aid kit.

Dignitaries gathered at the school on Monday, June 5 for a presentation of the award, according to DEM.

Tara O’Brien, interim acting principal, acknowledged that the school had undergone changes in the 2016-17 school year after being identified as needing work on safety.

“In August of 2016, after being identified by the state as a persistently dangerous school, our community came together to highlight the importance of safety in the lives of our children,” said O’Brien.

A new administrative team placed greater emphasis on working collaboratively, she said.

P.S. 207 is now being recommended for removal from the list in the summer, said O’Brien.

About 25 borough schools and community centers were visited in the 2016-17 school year by the safety program, according to a list supplied by James.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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