The 2021 Winter Briefings: Carly Posey

November 25, 2020 / by The “I Love U Guys” Foundation

The Briefings 2021: A Virtual Symposium


The Briefings is our bi-annual National School Safety Symposium. The upcoming Winter Briefings will take place February 4th and 5th of 2021. We’ll focus on proactive, measured, and effective methods of keeping schools safe and we’ll provide a number of takeaways that districts, departments, and agencies can implement immediately. You can register and read more about The Briefings here.

“It was easily the most impactful, meaningful, and emotional conference I have ever been to in my career.”

The Briefings is not your average conference. We’re all in this together, and it shows. Our speakers and presenters bring their personal stories, alongside their expertise, to share and to connect. We offer school safety programming and advice through the lens of people who have been through crises; those who are now taking proactive steps to make a difference in our school communities. It’s an opportunity to educate and to motivate. It’s more than a set of to-do’s. You’ll get a lot of heart.

We’re pleased to feature a familiar face to many of you, Carly Posey, the Mission Director for The “I Love U Guys” Foundation. Carly, one of our keynote speakers for the Winter Briefings, is highlighted in this post as a preview of what she’ll share with you in February. 

And look forward to future highlights of other keynote speakers as the symposium draws near: former Columbine principal and safety and emergency management consultant Frank DeAngelis, and mass and school shooting researcher and expert Dr. Jaclyn Schildkraut. 

Transformation Emerges From Tragedy

Carly will present ‘From Sandy Hook to COVID-19: Lesson Learned in Crisis’ at the Winter Briefings. She offers her personal story of how tragedy impacted her life and eventually led her to become a leader in school safety measures across the country.

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We know all too well how a tragedy of this magnitude alters families and communities. As she advocates for change and growth in school safety, Carly is a shining example of the resilient spirit of The “I Love U Guys” Foundation and our partners. In her presentation she offers real solutions based on experience, research, and collaboration with others focusing on reunification and recovery in the aftermath of a crisis.

“Before December 14th, I just assumed my kids were safe at school.”

On December 14, 2012, two of Carly’s children attended Sandy Hook Elementary School for their last day before a planned move across the country to Colorado. Just after 9:35am, an armed man entered the school building with a gun and multiple rounds of ammunition. We all know what came next—something that changed the Connecticut community, and our school safety community, forever. Thankfully both of Carly’s young children who were inside the school building survived the experience. The trauma brought about sweeping changes for their family.

Carly’s youngest son, Reichen, was huddled together with his classmates in the back of his first grade classroom when the gunman entered the room, shooting and killing his teacher and one of his classmates. After watching the shooter pause to reload his weapon, Reichen ran out of the classroom and the school building. He took the practiced fire drill route along the side of the school building toward an adjacent field heading for the nearby firehouse when a neighbor brought him safely into their home. 

Carly’s fourth grade daughter, Amyla, hid in an art room office throughout the duration of the assault. 

Carly, unaware of the incident as it was occurring, learned of the school shooting through friends she had been enjoying breakfast with that morning.

“On December 14th, when I was having breakfast with my girlfriends and anticipating our move to Colorado, what I thought would be a difficult day for that reason alone turned into a nightmare.”

Once the news came to Carly that a shooting occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary, she quickly made her way to the school grounds in an attempt to find her children. She learned that Reichen was safe at a nearby home, but had no information on her daughter or her two eldest children, attending the Intermediate school nearby. Carly arrived at the firehouse next to the school and found Amyla. Amyla and Carly reunited with Reichen at the neighbor’s house, taking shelter with other students and parents. 

Over the next hour, the lack of planning for an emergency of this caliber became more and more clear. There were no plans for reunifying families, ensuring which students were safely in the firehouse, or sending students home with designated adults. As Carly puts it, “It was now chaos, something like I’ve never seen before and hope to never see again.” Students and emergency responders had never practiced for an evacuation of this magnitude nor the reunification of families if an incident did occur.

“Twenty kids and six adults were killed that day…How could so many children have died that day and mine survived?”

Carly and her two children attempted to follow what little leadership was available at the firehouse in the time immediately following the shooting, but soon decided to leave the area and head home. It was nearly seven hours later when her oldest two children, fifth graders who were in lockdown all day, came home on the school bus. Once all were safe at home, Carly and her husband told their children about the deaths of the students and faculty at Sandy Hook.

Part of Carly’s lesson is her belief that, as she puts it, “The aftermath really starts when you’re in the emergency.” 

In an effort to prove to her children that it was safe for them to enter school buildings again, Carly dove head first into learning all she could about school safety. What started as a way to prove the safety of school to her children transformed into an endeavor that would eventually lead her to The “I Love U Guys” Foundation. Carly gathered tons of information and met with countless individuals and groups who shared their insights and listened to Carly’s family experience. She began publicly sharing her own story to audiences across the country. She asked questions, probing for deeper understanding, and developed a passion for school safety procedures and reunification plans.

“This is my focus now, to help schools prepare to help children who have gone through traumatic events.”

Carly joined The “I Love U Guys” Foundation  in May of 2018. As an advocate, Carly takes the Sandy Hook experience and turns it into tangible learning for all of us, giving communities proactive tools for preparedness in crisis situations.

Now Carly also brings attention and resources to establishing safe processes and protocols of reunification amidst the COVID-19 crisis. She’ll present actionable items that support school communities’ efforts to establish and maintain trust and safety between school personnel and families as the pandemic continues.

Sign up for the winter session of the Briefings to hear from Carly about her story, her path to school safety leadership, and how you can enact practices and procedures that make a difference.


Building Our Virtual Community

Learning from and collaborating with you has always been the way of the Foundation—you all are the experts, we are the conduits. Now that we’re attending the Briefings from the comforts of our own computers, we’re really going to miss the in-person connections. Nothing replaces the impromptu conversations in the hallways and food lines, but we’re thinking of ways to keep the relationship-building as strong as possible. Have any ideas? Please reach out.



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