Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, has been appointed as co-chair of the newly formed School Safety and Crisis Response Committee by the Connecticut Association of School Psychologists (CASP). Geoff Millenson, school psychologist for Stratford Public Schools and alumnus of Fairfield’s school psychology program, will join Dr. Gill-Lopez as co-chair.
The School Safety and Crisis Response Committee has been formed in response to recent national events and the needs of families, schools, and school psychologists. The committee’s charge is to coordinate public and private response efforts to crises in the state.
Lopez is associate professor and chair of the department of psychological and educational consultation, and director of the school psychology program at Fairfield University’s Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP). As a certified PREPaRE trainer, a national crisis intervention program, Lopez is a leading expert in school crisis prevention and response, and a member of the National Association of School Psychologists. She will be initiating contact with school districts and mental health organizations across the state regarding PREPaRE training.
The PREPaRe curriculum, developed by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), provides school-based mental health professionals and educational professionals with school safety and crisis management training. According to NASP, PREPaRE “is one of the first comprehensive nationally available curriculums developed by school-based professionals with first hand experience and formal training.” The training model incorporates guidelines from The U.S. Department of Education Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) and the Department of Homeland Security Incident Command System (ICS). PREPaRE Crisis Curriculum focuses on the five stages of a crisis: prevention, mitigation, protection, response and recovery.
As co-chairs, Lopez and Millenson will lead the School Safety and Crisis Response Committee to support districts’ needs regarding school safety and crisis, develop a list of all NASP PREPaRE trained Connecticut school psychologists and increase the number of school psychologists in the state who are trained in PREPaRE I and II.
Paula Gill Lopez received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in educational psychology with a specialization in school psychology. While working as a school psychologist in Richmond, California, she co-wrote curriculum and conducted workshops in cultural awareness, anger management, conflict mediation, and gang violence prevention for the West Contra Costa Human Relations Department.
In 1994, Lopez joined the faculty in the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) at Fairfield University and has directed the school psychology program ever since. She has conducted school safety training for the State Police School Resources Officers, the State Educational Resource Center (SERC), and numerous school districts in Connecticut.
In 2008, she co-founded the School Psychology Student Association with graduate students in the program, and serves as the faculty sponsor. Lopez was recognized as the 2017 Alpha Sigma Nu Graduate Teacher of the Year. Alpha Sigma Nu, the National Jesuit Honor Society, encourages scholarship, loyalty, and service to the ideals of Jesuit higher education. Most recently, she has been working with her student research team, studying the effects of practicing self-care and mindfulness in public schools and presenting their findings at regional and national conferences.