Van Beek: Your Little Ones are in Good Hands

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A new school year is a time of excitement. New friends, new routines, new sports, new classes, and sometimes it includes a new school.

In Eagle County we are fortunate to have so many wonderful academic options and educational

opportunities. The teachers across the valley are amazing and parents get to meet these wonderful role

models at the beginning of each school year.

What we don’t see and often don’t meet are the incredible School Resource Officers (SROs) that keep

our children and staff safe, but they are also the mentors and guardian angels to our kids when things

get tough at school. While their primary duty is to keep everyone safe, some would say their greatest

value is in the relationships they develop with students.

Schools are a busy place and everyone takes their responsibilities seriously. Those that teach, have

standards they must meet, with a diverse student body, sometimes arriving with varying levels of skill,

and they must compete with online edutainment in their presentation, to make content fun as well as

educational. In addition, they want to develop a unique relationship with each student, to be able to

teach to their strengths, challenges, and unique learning style, while developing attainable expectations.

Administrators must do everything else to make sure that the teaching is top quality, and the

environment is conducive to learning.

The physical facilities must be not only safe but in top shape, the wide variety of personal student needs are met,
which includes all aspects of educational offerings, from

academics, to sports, to the arts, to physical as well as mental health, to an appropriate social

environment, to making available needed community resources, and even to assure that students

receive proper nutrition. This includes engaging everyone from teaching staff, to custodial personnel,

health professionals, and others.

Then there is the team whose sole purpose is the safety of your child and everyone around… from

friends to staff. They arrive regularly and get to know each and every person in that facility.

Aside from protecting this special place of learning and growing, they are the shoulder from which many

a child has shed a tear; the sounding board to teachers and administrators who just need a little outside

advice and perspective; the one who gives assurance in times of stress; the one who can also throw a

football, shoot a basket, or even read a line from a play, as they bond with students. For they recall very

well, when it was them, reaching for the stars and often falling short.

Navigating difficult choices, yet not wanting to disappoint teachers, parents, or friends, is a common

bond. Where can they turn during times of uncertainty?


That familiar face, who jokes with them when they arrive on campus, the same one who has to have

SnapChat explained to them, or who makes a face at eating the same lunch as you because they used to

eat it in the same cafeteria with your parents. In fact, you’ve seen them playing with their own kids at

the neighborhood park and realize that they will never get the hang of skateboarding and what they are

wearing is downright embarrassing, but they don’t seem to mind.

When upset, you know exactly where you can turn. No judgement, but solid advice. When you screw

up, you know it won’t get by them, but they will also be the first to congratulate you on that goal you

finally achieved. If you choose a different option than others may think is best, you know that they will

help you evaluate your choices, and the decision you make won’t affect how they feel about you. They

will also make sure you don’t make any stupid mistakes that may land you in deep trouble.

The stern lecture that ends with a wink and a smile, which you will always remember, are only a small

part of the memories you will make at school, and while you may not say it, you enjoy that presence

every time you walk in the doorway. You know that no matter how challenging things get, they will help

keep your head in the right place… and you feel safe.

While, you are fortunate to have so many people in your life who care for you, it’s nice to have this

additional person to help guide you through some of school’s rough terrain. Social relationships,

academic challenges, peer pressure, expectations, social media survival, and just plain life.

Then there is the one who seems to be fine… is doing well in school, has plenty of friends, excels in

sports, yet when alone, there is a sadness in their eyes, a gaze that seems to go somewhere distant, an

occasional shift in their voice. It might be missed by others because they all are engaged in a specific

activity to which this person “is doing fine” but you observe them in a different light. When they are

alone, something is not fine.

This is when an easy-going chat, with a familiar face, comes into play. No agenda, no performance

expected, no judgement to be made… just one person talking to another. It may begin with a simple

comment about something you had for dinner last night. The next time, there is a tease about how you

might expand your diet beyond donuts. Then, a casual mention about something posted on social

media, or a brief comment about feelings of worthlessness, perhaps even a question about suicide.

The signs are subtle, noticed only by someone whose job it is to observe, care, and engage. An SRO

does more than keep physical safety, they support relationships that can be crucial at times of stress,

uncertainty, and emotional turmoil. They offer a safe place to vent with a mentor who cares. This safe

space is not only open for students, but staff members, feeling a bit overwhelmed that day, who may

just need a cup of coffee with a friend to regain perspective.

The School Resource Officer is an integral part of the academic environment and social structure of its

students and staff. They are primarily assigned to public schools but are on-call for private schools, as

well, even covering special youth programs at CMC… they take care of kids wherever they are.


School Resource Officers will not only be a regular presence at your school, but they will put their life on

the line to protect yours. Next time you see an SRO, introduce yourself; they would love to meet you!

In Part II, we will discuss on and off-campus safety. Meanwhile, here is the contact info for our amazing


Dominik Scriver:

Colleen Gaspard:

Kyle Plecher:

Griffin Wright:

Robert Burner:

Dustin Oakley:

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