Educator Develops App for School Safety
Shagmond Lowery came up with the idea for the MyPal App four years ago when he was an educator at a South Suburban School District. Incidents at schools in the community prompted him to create the app with the hope it would keep students safe.
MyPal (Personal Alert Levels) Schools is an interactive web-based school safety app that allows students to anonymously report bullying, cyberbullying, personal crisis, fighting and school threats. Lowery piloted the app at his daughter’s school.
During the pandemic, Lowery was able to perfect the app. He went from one school to five schools in 2020. Now, the MyPal is used at 92 schools across five states: Illinois, Georgia, Texas, Indiana and Michigan. One local school district, Calumet City School District 156, is set to launch the app in Spanish to meet the needs of the Spanish speaking population at the district. Lowery’s mission is to make sure that students are safe at school.
“When you don’t feel safe, nothing matters. You don’t care how the lunch tastes, you don’t care about what the teacher is talking about, all you care about is if you feel safe,” Lowery said.
On the website, mypalschools.com, the schools have their own section of the MyPal website. The color on the circle means something. Yellow is for bullying and cyberbullying, green is for personal crisis, pink is for fighting and blue is for school threats. When someone clicks on the circle to report, the report goes to the school administrator. From there, the school administrators receive the report and are able to handle the situation.
Lowery said the school districts that utilize the app have given it positive responses. Since the app was launched, school districts have continued to renew their membership each year. In one instance, a student reported another student’s intention to harm themselves. A school administrator was able to make a call to law enforcement to intervene, send help and save the child’s life. At another school district, there was a school shooting threat. The information from another app was relayed to the school administrators and to the local law enforcement and the threat was neutralized.
“I just want to keep these kids safe. I’m worried about these kids feeling safe. I don’t want them to take matters into their own hands. This program allows them the opportunity to have an outlet and have a voice without feeling a threat of coming out of the principal’s office or dean’s office and someone think they are snitching,” he said, adding that the students can make the anonymous reports anywhere they have access to the MyPal.
Members of the community and parents can also use MyPal to report incidents anonymously. There also are recording capabilities where people can send videos of incidents to the schools that use MyPal.
For more information on MyPal Schools, visit www.mypalschools.com.
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