Michele Gay thought she had her life planned out.
She put her career on hold as an elementary teacher to become a stay-at-home mom until her children were old enough to start school. She then would resume teaching. But that changed when she learned that her third daughter, Josephine, was a special needs child.
“That required me to step up as her advocate,” Gay said. “I found myself in a job I hadn’t planned.”
Then, on Dec. 14, 2012, her life took what she described as a “hard left” turn.
Josephine, 7, was one of 20 children and six adult staff members killed that day in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut.
Since that time, Gay has become an advocate for school safety, traveling the nation to offer advice to teachers and administrators on how to improve security at their schools. That mission brought her to New Philadelphia on Wednesday, when she spoke to teachers and staff at Central Elementary School.
Gay, a co-founder of Safe and Sound: A Sandy Hook Initiative, was invited to speak by New Philadelphia-based Lauren Innovations, which has provided its NaviGate Prepared emergency response safety system to area school districts. Lauren is a sponsor of Safe and Sound.