GREEN BAY, Wis. - During a visit to Pioneer Elementary School in the Ashwaubenon School District, Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch announced the return of the Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) program to Wisconsin classrooms.
"When disaster strikes, it's important that Wisconsin communities know how to respond and act quickly," Dunbar said. "The STEP program not only teaches students how to prepare for emergencies, but it also encourages them to share that information with their families. I encourage interested schools in the Green Bay area and throughout the state to sign up for this program and help prepare their students for emergencies."
Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Brian Satula and AT&T Wisconsin President Scott VanderSanden also attended the kickoff event.
STEP is a turn-key classroom curriculum for teachers to prepare 5th-graders for various emergencies and disasters, including tornadoes, flooding and storms. The program also shows students how to put together an emergency kit and develop an emergency plan with their families.
"We know how critical it is to be ready and prepared to respond in the event of a disaster or emergency," VanderSanden said. "Not only are we proud that our network operations are state of the art when it comes to performing during and after a disaster, but we are also proud to help prepare Wisconsin families to respond to emergencies through our support of the STEP program."
Pioneer Elementary is planning to teach the STEP program for the second year in a row.
"Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time to anyone, and that's why we think it's important to prepare our students," said Pioneer Elementary Principal Pete Marto. "We're excited to teach the STEP curriculum again this year. We've seen how this program gives our students the confidence and potentially life-saving tools they need to respond in an emergency situation."
Schools interested in applying for the STEP program must visit https://readywisconsin.wi.gov/STEP/default.asp. Applications are due by Nov. 1, and participants will be notified by Dec. 1. Materials will be distributed to schools in early January, and instruction should be complete by the end of the 2013-2014 academic year.
Teachers are provided with all materials at no cost to the schools, including instructor guides, DVDs and copies of student handouts. All students participating in the program will also receive an emergency kit to take home, which includes a flashlight, first aid kit and emergency blanket. The basic lesson is only one hour of instruction, but teachers can expand the lessons to cover eight hours of materials.
Wisconsin became the first state in the Midwest to teach the STEP program during the 2010-2011 school year. Nearly 2,400 students from Wisconsin schools participated in the program during that first year. The number grew to 8,000 students by the 2013-14 school year, and the goal for this year is to reach another 8,000 for a total of more than 28,000 students in five years.
The program is funded in part through a $13,000 Innovation and Investment Award from AT&T Wisconsin. AT&T has a long-standing commitment to disaster preparedness and business continuity, and is the first company in the nation to earn U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) certification for disaster preparedness. AT&T also received an Honorable Mention Award for Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness as part of the 2013 FEMA Individual and Community Preparedness Awards.
For more information on the STEP program, visit https://readywisconsin.wi.gov/STEP/default.asp to view a STEP video and download a brochure, or contact Tod Pritchard at or 608-242-3324.