Dr. Gill Lopez Appointed to State of CT School Safety and Crisis Response Committee
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 (SSCR) 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.
Dr. Gill 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, Dr. Gill Lopez is a leading expert in school crisis prevention and response. She will be initiating contact with school districts and mental health organizations across the state regarding PREPaRE training.
According to the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the PREPaRe curriculum “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). The PREPaRE Crisis Curriculum focuses on the five stages of a crisis: prevention, mitigation, protection, response, and recovery.
As co-chairs, Dr. Gill Lopez and Mr. Millenson will lead the SSCR 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. This past April, Dr. Gill Lopez conducted PREPaRE training on Fairfield’s campus for school psychology students and alumni over the course of three, full-day workshops.
"The work of the committee will highlight the two most important aspects of crisis intervention: preparation and prevention,” explained Dr. Gill Lopez. “The elements include: creating safe, respectful schools where students feel connected to peers and adults in the building; where they feel responsible for each other's safety (including saying something if they hear or see something dangerous); giving mental health and social emotional skills the same weight as academics; and promoting self-care for school professionals to proactively combat burnout so they can be their best."
Dr. 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, Dr. Gill Lopez joined faculty in GSEAP and has directed the school psychology program ever since.
Dr. Gill Lopez 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, serving as the faculty sponsor, and was recognized as Fairfield’s 2017 Alpha Sigma Nu Graduate Teacher of the Year.