Spotlight on Brandon Cruz
Brandon Cruz’s services are increasingly in demand. As Southern Westchester BOCES’ Supervisor of School Safety and Facilities, he oversees programs and workshops whose content is at the forefront of educators’ and parents’ minds these days.
He looks to build upon established collaboration with the Westchester County Department of Public Safety on the Threat Assessment Teams professional development series.
The preventive aspect of the model calls for school teams to meet regularly and work to identify students who might be a danger to themselves or others. Then there is a direct response aspect that includes active shooter training. “What happens afterwards is the need for parent reunification,” Mr. Cruz said.
This is crucial material that everyone in a school needs to know. That’s why he encourages, and even gives preference for, teams to attend together. Mr. Cruz also wants to see more mental health professionals in his workshops join the educators and law enforcement professionals who round out his target audience.
In building his network among mental health providers, he has collaborated with Westchester County Department of Community & Mental Health Commissioner Michael Orth. That has led to a well-attended mental health forum at the center as well as the showing of the film Resilience, which looks at the link between childhood experiences and health in later life.
The mental health focus is an obvious progression for his programs. New York state has mandated that mental health education be part of the health education curriculum. The goal is to make students mental health literate..
“Really it’s a natural outgrowth of the work I’ve been doing on school safety and talking about how is it that we prevent things from happening,” he said.