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From the Desk of Avery Schools Supt. David Burleson

Dear Community,

On behalf of Avery County Schools, thank you for your recent support and concern to keep our students safe during this time of winter weather. We take student safety very seriously and work diligently to make our school travel and grounds as safe as possible. We appreciate the cooperation of everyone as we get through these days of cancellations and calender changes. Hopefully, spring is just around the corner!

Supt. Burleson
Supt. Burleson

In addition to keeping our students and staff safe during inclement weather, Avery County Schools is taking proactive steps to keep our schools safe at all times. We are excited to announce that Avery County Schools will be hosting a two day Safe Schools Summit on March 14 and 15 with guest Michael Dorn, an international authority on school safety. Mr. Dorn will address the topic of school safety with power, passion, and conviction. He serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, Inc., a global non-profit school safety center. During his 25 year career in public safety he has worked as a School District Police Chief, School Safety Specialist for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency-Office of the Governor, Lead Program Manager of the Terrorism Division of the Georgia Office Homeland Security and Senior Analyst for School Safety and Emergency Management. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and has received extensive anti-terrorism training in the United States and in Israel. Having authored and co-authored 26 books on school safety, Mr. Dorn’s work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa, and the Middle East.

Day one of the Safe Schools Summit, will target school leaders, law enforcement, school resource officers, emergency medical specialist, firemen, and others that are involved in keeping our children safe. Training for these specific groups will take place in the Avery High School Mini Theater and is free to all Avery County participants. Please register by March 8 if you plan to attend. Contact Leslie Laws at 828.733.6006 or leslielaws@averyschools.net

Morning sessions will begin at 8:30 am until 12 noon and will consist of the following presentations:

School Safety Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow 

This session will help dispel many of the school safety myths that dominate the American media and popular perception of school staff, students and parents. Attendees will hear a brief historical overview of major school safety incidents followed by tangible and practical real world action steps to make school a safer place where children can learn more effectively. This session will demonstrate that problems with safety, discipline and order directly affect test scores. 

Weakfish – Bullying Through the Eyes of a Child.

This powerful presentation uses the case study of a child who was chronically bullied in school. This presentation will examine the critical role that educators, mental health professionals, law enforcement officers and others play as role models for children who face extreme challenges. 

The afternoon session (1:15 pm. until 4:15 pm.) is especially for school leaders and anyone who might respond to a school emergency. 

Permission to Live – Making Schools Safer Through Planning, Preparedness and Empowerment

This highly interactive session will utilize a series of realistic school crisis scenarios depicting a wide range of different types of school crisis scenarios. This focus is on research and assessment-based approaches as well as on forensic evaluations of a number of school crisis events.

Community is invited to attend an open session for School Safety at the Avery High School Gym beginning at 6 pm. Mr. Dorn will provide proactive ways that parents, students and the community as a whole can join together to keep our schools safe. 

Day Two of the Safe Schools Summit will be focus on each individual school in Avery County and is for Avery County Schools personnel only. Each school will be evaluated and assessed on how to make our schools as safe as possible. During this time, training will take place targeting those concerns for school safety. 

One of the most important issues we deal with on a daily basis is the safety and well being of our students and staff. After the recent acts of violence in many schools around our country, the issue of school safety remains on everyone’s mind. We do take school safety very seriously and work diligently to make our schools as safe as possible. As your superintendent, I encourage everyone, including students, to work together as we make the Avery County Schools a safe and healthy environment for education. I welcome any suggestions you may have for school safety. Remember, my door is always open. Please feel free to call me at 733-6006, or e-mail me at davidburleson@averyschools.net

I look forward to seeing you at the Safe Schools Summit.

David Burleson,


Avery County Schools