The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Noblesville Schools’ new full-time safety director Heather Hendrich shared an overview of safety services, school procedures and more during Tuesday’s Safe Schools information night at Noblesville East Middle School.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Noblesville Schools’ new full-time safety director Heather Hendrich shared an overview of safety services, school procedures and more during Tuesday’s Safe Schools information night at Noblesville East Middle School.
If you’re a Noblesville Schools parent and have been to school to drop off a lunch, pick up a sick child or volunteer for a special event, then you’ve probably had the opportunity to experience safety procedures being enforced.
All exterior school doors are locked during the school day. While you might think it’s a hassle to get out your driver’s license or show your Level 3 Background Check identification at the video entry intercom system, be glad that the safety procedure is required.
The district’s safety officials are trying to do everything possible to keep our kids safe. And that means making sure they know the identity of every person, and their purpose for the visit, before entering a building during the school day. Background checks are required for district employees and school volunteers, and visitors, as well as school contractors and vendors.
These were among the safety procedures shared during Tuesday’s Safe Schools information night.
It was unfortunate of the sparse turnout at the program. Hopefully, parents will take the time to tune into the videotaped session, which will go online at the district’s site
I am glad that my family attended this informative meeting. I am much more at ease of having a child in a Noblesville school after meeting and hearing from district’s new full-time safety director Heather Hendrich.
“This is home to me,” said Hendrich, who started her job July 1. She has lived in Noblesville her entire life. She and her husband have kids who attend Noblesville Schools.
In fact, the mom had a child at Noblesville West Middle School during the May 25, 2018, shooting. “She fully appreciates where we have been as a community regarding school safety and where we are going,” district superintendent Dr. Beth Niedermeyer has said in a previous press release to the media.
Henrich has an extensive background in school safety, having served as Indiana school safety specialist for 10 years, as a Western School Corp. assistant superintendent responsible for safety for seven years, and as a former principal. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Ball State University, where she earned her doctorate in education.
When Henrich came to Noblesville Schools, she was “extremely overjoyed that our buildings and facilities are very saturated with cameras, which is a great thing.” There were just a few areas over the summer that she found, while walking through with the administration, that needed to add a camera. “And those things have been taken care of,” she said.
Also, classroom doors are locked at all times during the day. “That’s just another (safety) barrier …,” she said. “That’s something we strongly preach to our teachers ....”
All staff are trained in ALICE (Alert, Lock Down, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.) active-shooter civilian response training. The training goes into effect for “an intruder” or “active shooter” in a school building. Staff and students are alerted the situation and location, if known, of the intruder, with the use of the school intercom. The lock down includes use of anything within their classroom -- chairs and tables -- to barricade the door. (The district is also seeking a common barricading device for use in the classrooms.) Then students move to a safe place, and they also prepare to evacuate. There are other options to distract the shooter. “The preferred response, obviously, is to evacuate. We really talk to the kids about that, that if they can get out safely, then we want them to do that,” Henrich said. “...The teachers do an excellent job when they go through these drills of really talking to the kids, about ‘if we get separated, here’s where we’re going to meet, outside of the building.’”
The schools have four different drills: fire drills are monthly, tornado drills are twice a semester, earthquake drills are annually in October, and ALICE drills are twice each semester.
There are also three new safety dogs, labrador retrievers, roaming buildings with contracted handlers. If you were at Friday’s Miller varsity football game, then you might have seen one of the dogs, trained to detect weapons. The dogs follow behind people to pick up scents of guns, gun oil or gunpowder. The dogs wear two different vests: a green vest, for “OK to Pet” and a red vest, for “Do not Pet.”
Noblesville Police Department Lt. Shane Ginnan is also part of the new safety team. He oversees the district’s team of school resource officers; there is at least one resource officer at every school, every day. “The vast majority of the day, he’s at his building,” Ginnan said. (BTW, if your family is in need of a gun lock, NPD offers them free of charge.)

Project Truth replaces the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program with 20 lessons for students kindergarten through Grade 5 and six lessons to fifth-graders. The district has also implemented a new gun-safety education, the National Rifle Association’s Eddie the Eagle gun accident prevention program for K-Grade 4 students, taught by the school resources officers. “IF a child sees a gun, we’re teaching them what to do,” Heinrich said. There is also a digital citizenship program, for grades 6-9. Other areas addressed through special classes are distracted driving, dangers of tobacco and vaping and law-related issues. There are also archery classes within the PE classes, taught by the resource officers, to students in grades 3-5.
“It takes the entire community working together to keep our schools safe,” Heinrich said.
If you have a student at Noblesville Schools, you’re a part of the safety team, she said.
So what can parents do? Communicate with your child about school safety. Remind them, if needed, to not bring anything that would be considered a weapon, such as a pocket knife, to school. Make sure your child doesn’t have access to weapons. “If you see something, say something.” Report concerns to school resource officers, administrators or counselors. Monitor your child’s social media accounts. And ensure that the school has your immediate contact information in the event of an emergency.
The safety team includes 20 safety school specialists at Noblesville, with all building principals and assistant principals going through a certification process through the Indiana Department of Education.
There is also a Safe Schools committee, comprised of about 100 people, including staff, administrators, counselors, social workers, Noblesville Police officers and a lot of agencies in the community. The committee meets quarterly. “That team is really a group that we really depend on to bring us suggestions ...,” said Henrich. “... That team is especially important.”
There is also a student safety commission comprised of students from each of the buildings. The commission started last school year with one student from each building, and has grown this year to two or three students from each building.
“Those kids, they know the pulse of safety, and they really understand and bring a whole new perspective to what our initiatives are,” she said.
Laura Denis, the district’s director of student services, was also on hand at the meeting to talk about how students’ reactions to drills, coping strategies, empowerment and prevention.
“Our No. 1 goal is to keep everyone safe,” Denis said.
Social workers were just placed in all of the buildings on the first day of school. Plus, Michelle Whaley joined the district in the new position of mental health coordinator and was previously a social worker and behavior specialist for Indianapolis Public Schools.
On Wednesday, Duke Energy presented Noblesville Schools with a check totaling almost $10,000 in support of school health and safety. The funding will be used to purchase comprehensive emergency response kits for each of the district’s 15 school nurses.
The Safe Schools information night was offered through the district’s new Parent Power, a district resource for parenting challenges that will offer a series of ongoing educational opportunities throughout the school year, covering a variety of timely topics.The sessions will also be available to experience online.
The next Noblesville Schools Parent Power program is a Social Emotional Fair, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at Noblesville High School. Following a 5:30 p.m. presentation, a variety of booths will be open from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. offering healthy ways for families to deal with everyday issues, like stress, anxiety and conflict, and pick up useful tips to use at home.
Still have questions for the superintendent? Attend the district’s next monthly Table Talk with Superintendent Niedermeyer, from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at Noble Coffee & Tea, 933 Logan St.
-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.