Dr. Tera Simmons: Lifechanger of the Year Nominee
01 August 2019
(HCS) - Dr. Tera Simmons, HCS Assistant Superintendent for Administration, in her humble and very warm manner, welcomes me into her office to discuss her recent nomination as a Lifechanger of the Year for the National Life Group Foundation. Almost immediately, Dr. Simmons plays down her role in this nomination.
“The nomination is an honor, but I can’t leave anyone off; the award goes to everyone who has helped to create a safer place for students,” Dr. Simmons said.
Dr. Simmons was nominated anonymously for this award, primarily for her role in working to provide a safe environment for students and staff members of Hoover City Schools. For the past three years, Simmons views safety as her biggest priority.
“If students and staff members don’t feel safe, how can learning occur?” Simmons stated.
Therefore, she works heartily on every facet of safety within the system.
One safety initiative for which Dr. Simmons holds particular pride is the One-Button Lockdown System. Developed primarily by HCS Operations Supervisor Wes Wilbanks, with oversight from former Operations Coordinator Mr. Tracy Hobson, the app-based one-button lockdown system has been rolled out to all schools and faculty/staff members. If there is a perceived threat, an employee can press one button from his/her smartphone and the school enters lockdown mode. An announcement plays over the loudspeaker alerting all to the situation and the app simultaneously contacts 9-1-1.
This type of technology is available for purchase. However, working with Hobson and Wilbanks, Dr. Simmons was able to save the school system thousands of dollars. The 2018 school shooting at Parkland High School in Florida further spurred the need to protect students and employees across Hoover City Schools in an immediate way. As a former teacher herself, Simmons understands what life is like in the classroom, and providing teachers and staff with an extra measure of security propelled this endeavor.
Also in 2019, Simmons collaborated with area law enforcement agencies to create a full-scale active shooter drill where staff members were able to role play and get first-hand encounters with a simulated attack. The lessons learned this day were of great value to both the school system and law enforcement. She also collaborated with the Hoover Fire Department and Lieutenant Tim Lawson who had the vision to provide tourniquet training for hundreds of staff in Hoover. In the face of an attack, many lives can be saved if a tourniquet is applied to a victim, and Dr. Simmons had made a point to provide all schools with several tourniquets in key locations in the event of an emergency.
Working with administrators and law enforcement on a regular basis, Dr. Simmons organizes meetings with Emergency Management Agency (EMA) directors and city administrators to ensure that Hoover schools remain as safe as possible. Using the Salem-Keizer procedures and collaborating closely with school administrators regularly on Threat Assesment Protocols, Dr. Simmons does her best work to ensure that reporting databases are maintained correctly.
The job of keeping Hoover City Schools safe is a big one. However, Dr. Simmons' tireless dedication has proven that regardless of who wins the Lifechanger of the Year Award, she truly changes lives every day.
If you would like to vote for Dr. Simmons, please visit the National Life Group - Life Changer of the Year website.