This time of year always reminds me of how a beautiful moment in life can be followed by such deep sorrow. As many of you know my son John was born on September 10, 2001. It was one of the best moments of my life, becoming a father for the first time.
Although, I worked the 4 to 12 shift then, I always say John was my Guardian Angel. I was on a scheduled vacation right after his birth. My childhood friend John Odland called me at home to tell me about the first tower being hit. We both watched the second tower get struck on TV. We knew at that moment all members of the NYPD were going to be called in, so we hung up to call our commands.
I was a Sergeant assigned to the 67th Precinct. I called the Precinct and asked where they needed me to report. My bosses at the time told me to go to the hospital (St Vincent's now RUMC) first to see my wife and son. I tried calling the hospital but could not get through.
We lived in Brooklyn at the time. I drove over the Verrazzano Bridge with my shield out the window to the hospital. I hugged my wife and held John.
Like many of you, I had the overwhelming feeling to do whatever I could to help. That day and many weeks that followed remain forever etched in our memories.
I am sure there are hundreds of similar stories. But for the Grace of God. Never Forget!
God Bless all who perished and may we continue to pray for all those who continue to battle with 9/11 related illnesses.
Service, Commitment, Leadership
Leadership is not merely a title; it is an art that requires passion, vision, and dedication. Throughout my 30-year career, I have come to realize that true leadership goes beyond a job description. It is about inspiring transformational change, building high-performing teams, and making a positive impact in the lives of others. From my journey as a Squad Leader in Army basic training, a Lieutenant in the NYPD, a community advocate, and state legislator, I have learned valuable lessons that I believe can benefit aspiring leaders. In this article, I share my perspective on leadership, emphasizing the core principles of service, commitment, and vision that have guided me on this fulfilling journey.
At the heart of effective leadership is a profound commitment to service. Service-oriented leadership is not about self-promotion but about putting the needs of others first, the act of selflessly giving your time, talents, and resources to others. It is the understanding that our lives are not solely about our own success, but also about uplifting those who need it most. Service teaches us empathy, compassion, and the importance of being a part of something greater than ourselves. Whether it's volunteering at a local shelter, helping a colleague, or being there for a friend in need, service reminds us that we are all interconnected and that our actions can make a difference.
Commitment to the Greater Purpose
Commitment is the unwavering dedication to a cause or a goal. It is the willingness to stay the course, even when faced with challenges or setbacks. Commitment fuels perseverance and resilience, enabling us to overcome obstacles and achieve the extraordinary. The greater purpose serves as a guiding light, inspiring me to stay focused on what truly matters.
Visionary thinking is a hallmark of great leadership. It involves looking beyond immediate challenges and envisioning a better future. As a legislator, my vision extends to improving school safety, advocating for critical infrastructure projects, and bringing positive changes to the education system. A compelling vision inspires people to work together and motivates them to overcome obstacles in pursuit of shared goals.
Embracing Lifelong Commitment to Learning
Leadership is a continuous journey of growth and learning. A commitment to self-improvement is essential for staying relevant and effective in leadership roles. Pursuing a Master's degree in Management and Leadership and actively participating in various advisory boards have enriched my knowledge and expanded my skill set, enabling me to become a more effective leader. Lifelong learning not only benefits the individual leader but also enhances the capacity to serve others more effectively.
Resilience in the Face of Challenges
Challenges are inevitable in any leadership role. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, learn from failures, and keep moving forward. As an NYPD officer, I faced numerous challenges in ensuring the safety of communities. It taught me the value of perseverance and adaptability in demanding situations.
Leadership is not a destination but a never-ending journey of growth and impact. Throughout my career, I have learned that true leadership is founded on service, commitment, and visionary thinking. Embracing these core principles has allowed me to make a positive difference in the lives of the people I serve. Aspiring leaders should remember that leadership is not defined by a title, but by the positive change they bring to their communities and organizations. By embodying the values of service, commitment, and vision, aspiring leaders can become agents of transformation and inspire those around them to achieve greatness.
Academy of St. Dorothy Hosts Social Media Safety Workshop for Parents and Student
(February 2, 2023 - Staten Island, NY) Despite the requirement that users are 13 years of age or older, a recent study by Common Sense Media found that children as young as eight are increasingly using social media and have greater access to the internet. Observing the trend, and the pressures placed on grammar school students, the Academy of St. Dorothy (ASD) arranged for an internet safety workshop for both its parents and its students with the Center for Educational Innovation’s Digital Citizenship and Cyberbullying presenter, Mike Reilly.
“Our children are growing up with devices in their hands, and it’s clear to all of us who interact with students on a daily basis that it impacts them in profound ways,” said Sister Sharon McCarthy, SSD, Principal. “We are constantly looking for ways to arm our Academy of St. Dorothy school community with information to protect the kids and help them thrive, and social media safety certainly appears to be the most pressing need in 2023.”
Well before adolescence, children growing up in this digital age are facing bullying, unrealistic expectations, predators and an archive of mistakes that will follow them through life. As Reilly explained to parents during their session on January 26, bullying no longer stops at the school doors; rather, bullying takes place 24 hours a day, seven days a week on social media sites.
What is the key to protecting our kids?
“Knowledge and communication are the most important weapons parents and guardians have in their arsenal,” explained Reilly. Although many parents think they are closely monitoring their children’s actions online, many children find ways around surveillance. From calculator apps that hide photos and video games with in-game messaging, threats can come from unexpected places. Keeping lines of communication open with your kids, monitoring their behavior and offering them a safe space to share is vital.
“One of the greatest challenges of being a parent today is navigating our children’s sophistication and constant immersion in technology,” said Jennifer Loughran, mother of two students at the Academy of St. Dorothy. “It’s undeniable that even our elementary school-aged children are more fluent and comfortable in digital environments than many adults. I believe we need continuing education just to keep up with them. The Academy of St. Dorothy recognized this need and thankfully provided us with this workshop to highlight the importance of the topic and provide us with much needed tools and information.”
“I am privileged to have had the opportunity to grow up at the Academy of St. Dorothy and now my kids are privileged to attend and grow in this supportive and loving environment,” said Rosanne Mottola, ASD parent and alumna. “However, the world doesn’t end at the walls of the school and for better or for worse, technology puts the world at their fingertips. I know I cannot fully prevent them from exposure to social media, and so I’m relieved to have this guidance to help them navigate this new frontier.”
Shortly after the parent presentation on Friday, February 3, students from Kindergarten to 8th Grade participated in an age-appropriate workshop with Reilly. “It was important that our students heard directly from a trusted adult -- outside their own parents and teachers -- about the dangers and pressures they’re facing on a daily basis,” said Sr. Sharon. “I believe the workshop was an important step in opening the eyes of our students to the consequences of their actions on the web and challenged them to be good digital citizens who are kinder to one another.”
“Ultimately, we want our students and our parents to keep their guard up, and know that if and when mistakes are made while navigating technology, we are here to help,” said Sr. Sharon.
About the Academy of St. Dorothy
Academy of St. Dorothy (ASD) is a private elementary school in Old Town with a focus on academic excellence through a nurturing, collaborative learning environment. ASD instills in students, from pre-k through eighth grade, the religious and moral values of a Catholic Christian environment - community, service, reverence and leadership. ASD offers instruction, activities and sports on its vast and easily accessible 13-acre campus.
Click here for an album of photos from the Parent Workshop.
Is traditional high school not a good fit for your child?
Is your child between the ages of 16 and 18?
If you answered yes to those two questions, the New Jersey Youth Challenge Academy may be an option.
The NJ Youth Challenge Academy is a unique military style “No Fee” program that is funded 75% by the federal government and 25% by the New Jersey National Guard. The program has been serving youth across New Jersey for the past 28 years. Recently, the program was expanded to allow qualified New York City youth to attend.
The Academy’s mission is to “provide a highly disciplined environment fostering academics, leadership development, physical training and personal growth to educate and train unemployed youth who have ceased attending high school.”
The Academy is a two-phased program that includes a 22-week Residential Phase and a 12-month post-residential phase for a total of 17 ½ months. Applicants wishing to attend must volunteer to attend. Parents cannot enroll their child into the program. The program is NOT a “Boot Camp” style program for juvenile justice. Each applicant is interviewed and must be alcohol and drug free to be accepted. If accepted, the candidate will be offered a seat.
During the Residential Phase the cadets live at the Academy, which is located at Joint Base Maguire – Dix – Lakehurst, in Burlington County, New Jersey. The residential phase begins with an “Acclimation Period” for the first two weeks. During this period applicants have an opportunity to adjust to the physical, mental and social discipline of the program. If they complete this phase the applicant becomes a full-fledged “Cadet.”
Cadets must successfully complete the 8 Core Components: Academic Excellence, Life Coping Skills, Job Skills, Health and Hygiene, Responsible Citizenship, Service to the Community, Leadership/Fellowship and Physical Fitness to graduate the Academy. Cadets that excel in academics are offered the opportunity to test for a New Jersey High School Diploma.
A typical school day during the Residential Phase includes;
Physical Training 5:45am to 7am
Chow (Breakfast) 7am
Class Begins at 8:35am
Company Formation 10am
Class Resumes 10:21am
Chow (Lunch) 12pm
Class Resumes 1:15pm
Company Formation 2:46pm
Class Resumes 3:01pm
Class Ends 3:45pm
Chow (Dinner) 4:45pm
Homework/Study Time 6pm to 7pm
Uniform Preparation Time 7pm to 7:30pm
Personal Hygiene 7:30pm to 8:30pm
Lights Out 9pm
Non-school days include recreational activities, including sports, trips and community service events. The Academy also partners with local businesses, colleges and the military to offer cadets options to guide them in the Post-Residential Phase.
At the 13-week mark, cadets are matched with a Mentor from their community. The Mentor is a non-relative, who helps keep the cadet focused. Mentorship is a key focus of the program.
After successfully completing Academy, the cadets graduate and move on to Post-Residential Phase in their community. They maintain communication with their mentor as they apply the skills they learned in the program.
The NJ Youth Challenge Academy is not easy, but it does appear to be rewarding!
You can learn more about the program and how to apply here:
In January 2020, I had the pleasure of joining Ryan Quinn at the Holy Rosary School in Rosebank. Ryan created an anti-bullying program for the students as part of his Eagle Scout Project. He built a beautifully handmade wooden "Buddy Bench" inscribed with: Be Friendly, Be Kind, Be Cheerful.
I had the privilege of being a part of his program to present #DigitalCitizenship #Cyberbullying assemblies to the students. Ryan's program also included providing books for the school library and worksheets.
Ryan's hard work and dedication to our Staten Island community is truly inspiring.
Thank you Ryan, his mom Ann Marie, Troop 85, Principal Ms. Campbell and the Holy Rosary School students and staff for a wonderful event.
I am excited to update everyone that Ryan has officially achieved the Rank of Eagle! Congratulations Ryan!
The CEI Esports Team Reachin' and Teachin' Podcast interviewed CEI's own Michael Reilly, retired NYPD Lt. and Digital Citizenship Cyberbullying Speaker.
I had the pleasure of leading a Digital Citizenship - Cyberbullying workshop for 100 NYC Department of Education Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Specialists (SAPIS) from Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. These counselors do amazing work for our students, families and school communities.
Thank you Marianna Mushailov for coordinating this wonderful event. Always great to share our experiences and best practices!
If your school would like to host a student, family and/or staff workshop please contact myself at MReilly@the-cei.org and Antony Orzo at AOrzo@the-cei.org
Visit The Center for Educational Innovation to learn more about the workshops and supports we offer.
Virtual Programs - The CEI (the-cei.org)
Have you ever been interested in an item you wanted to buy or sell on craigslist or a facebook for sale site?
You offer the item for sale or contact another person to buy the item. Two people that are strangers, potentially hiding behind a mask known as a profile. These transactions have mostly been safe but the potential danger is always there.
Not long ago we learned about the horrific murder of Danny Diaz-Delgado, a 20-year old Trenton, New Jersey young man who went to meet a stranger in hopes of purchasing a PS 4 video gaming system. Danny saw the offer on an online ad posted on the facebook for sale site.
Danny agreed to meet the seller in the East Ward section of Trenton. Sadly, Danny never returned home that night and his body was recovered the next day. He was discovered deceased near a creek in Hamilton Township. He had been tied up with duct tape and electrical cord and shot multiple times. The police identified the suspect as 29-year old Rufus Thompson, also of Trenton, who posted the ad for the PS4.
Just last night, a person was robbed at gun point in the Bronx after arranging a meeting to purchase a phone from someone via the “Let It Go” app. When the buyer arrived, two females displayed the gun and stole the victim’s money. Fortunately there were no injuries and the suspects were quickly apprehended.
During my Internet Safety - Cyberbullying student assemblies and parent workshops I discuss these dangers. There are so many strangers hiding behind an online mask looking for victims to take advantage of or harm. Often kids and adults let their guard down because they think they are getting a great deal. Over the past few years there have been several incidents where kids and young adults have traveled to trade sneakers or buy items seen online. When they arrived they were robbed at gunpoint.
Safe Exchange Zones
Many Police Departments across the country have incorporated a “Safe Exchange Zone” in the vicinity of Police Precincts in an effort to reduce crimes that originate from online and social media ads. In Staten Island, the front of any of the four Police Precincts would be an ideal location to conduct an online transaction. If the seller and buyer are reliable and trustworthy neither should have an issue with meeting in front of Staten Island Police Precinct.
If you are considering buying or selling an item online and intend on meeting with the seller or purchaser please consider these tips to maintain your safety.
Stay Safe. Don’t be a victim!
A.M.B.E.R Alerts: America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response
I know many of you may have questions about how Amber Alerts are activated. Here are the New York State guidelines for Law Enforcement agencies to activate the Amber Alert Plan for a missing child.
“The AMBER Alert™ Program is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry, to activate an urgent bulletin in the most serious child-abduction cases. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and the safe recovery of the child.”
As of January 1, 2013, AMBER Alerts™ are being automatically sent through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) program to millions of cell phone users. If you have a WEA-enabled phone, you are automatically enrolled for the three alerts: President, Imminent Threat and AMBER Alerts. The addition of AMBER Alerts to this notification system is a result of a partnership between CTIA and the wireless industry, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The New York State AMBER Alert Plan can be activated when an investigating law enforcement agency has reasonable cause to believe that:
· An abduction of a child (under the age of 18) has occurred, and
· The child is believed to be in danger of serious bodily harm or death, either due to the actions of another or due to a proven mental or physical condition.
Even if formal activation criteria have been met, activation may be impractical if available information is not specific enough and/or an extended period of time passed since the disappearance.
For example, an AMBER Alert specifying involvement of a white van (without a license plate number) could actually hinder an investigation by causing the public to inundate police agencies with possible sightings.
"Reasonable Cause to Believe" means that from eyewitness accounts, or by eliminating other possibilities, your investigation leads you to believe that a child has been abducted.
Familial abductions qualify only if a child is endangered by the actions of the abducting family member.
Whenever an AMBER Alert request does not meet activation criteria, requesting agencies are referred to other NYS Police investigative resources and to the NYS Department of Criminal Justice Services Missing Persons Clearinghouse (MPC) for possible issuance of a Missing Child/College Student Alert.
AMBER Alerts will link to photos of missing children under FCC upgrades.
On September 29, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved improvements to Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), a system that delivers critical warnings and information to wireless phone users.
The FCC updates are intended to enhance the information state and local authorities are able to send into communities. The changes include requiring wireless providers to support inclusion of embedded phone numbers and URLs in all WEA alerts, including allowing users to link to pictures and phone numbers in AMBER Alert urgent child-abduction bulletins.