School resource officers and the ability to connect with students

The 12 school resource officers assigned to Lincoln Public Schools come to their jobs with a wide variety of backgrounds. 

They have degrees in philosophy, biology, public relations, secondary education and journalism, to name only a few. Two of them have master’s degrees. There’s a former teacher and a former youth minister. Two of them worked in the Lincoln Police Department’s Special Victims Unit; others worked in criminal investigations and crime scene investigations.

One thing they all have in common, however, is the ability to form meaningful connections with students.

“Safety is my number one concern when I get to school in the morning but if that was the only thing I was concerned about, I would have a very boring job,” said Officer Kathryn Meade, the SRO for Scott and Park middle schools. “It’s about building those relationships, building that trust with students. It’s incredible the kind of relationships you can build.” 

Meade was one of three presenters at the most recent Learning Lunch, “SROs: Understanding this Important Job,” held Dec. 17 at LPS District Office. She was joined by Marco Pedroza, principal at Scott Middle School, and Lincoln Police Department Capt. Ryan Dale, who supervises SROs.

Dale spoke of the rigorous process to become an SRO, including 40 hours of training through the National Association of School Resource Officers and 32 hours of behavioral threat assessment training. But, like Meade and Pedroza, he stressed the intangible qualities required to be an SRO: a passion to mentor students, a comfort with visiting and speaking in classrooms, the ability to form meaningful relationships.

Pedroza has worked with multiple school resource officers during his time at Lincoln Northeast and Southwest high schools and now at Scott. Again, they’ve all shared one important trait.

“One thing they’ve all had is the ability to form meaningful relationships with students,” Pedroza said.

Some more facts about the school resource officers assigned to Lincoln Public Schools:

  • There are 12 SROs - each of the six high schools has its own, while the 12 middle schools each share an officer.
  • SROs were first introduced to LPS in 1971.
  • SROs now serve four-year stints at schools.
  • SROs must have first been a police officer for at least three years.

The remaining Learning Lunch schedule:

Jan. 14 - "Ensuring Students Have Adequate Learning Environments"

Update on the 10-year LPS Facility and Infrastructure Plan. Presenter: Liz Standish, associate superintendent for Business Affairs

Feb. 18 - "We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution"

LPS Government students have the opportunity to showcase their civic and Constitutional knowledge through the "We the People" program and competition. Presenter: Jaci Kellison, K-12 curriculum specialist, social studies 

March 17 - "The Importance of Our Guest Teachers in LPS" 

The job of being a substitute teacher can be challenging, yet rewarding. This session will provide information about being a substitute teacher in Lincoln Public Schools and the opportunities that are available for professional growth and development. Presenters: Vann Price, LPS Human Resources Department supervisor for secondary personnel, and Kren Shellhase, administrative assistant.

April 21 - "Take Charge, Career Readiness and Financial Responsibility: Lessons in Career and Personal Finance"

Lessons from the classroom in teaching young people responsibility in career and personal finance. Presenters: Julie Hippen, assistant curriculum specialist for career and technical education, along with teachers and students.

May 12 - "Creating Music on a Blank Canvas"

The final Learning Lunch of the school year will focus on the creative aspect of music. All six LPS high schools offer various music courses that empower and foster students to learn the creative process of music composition and improvisation. Some of our talented high school students will share their experiences, inspiration and performances of creating their own original music. Presenter: Lance Nielsen, LPS supervisor of Music.

Published: December 19, 2019, Updated: December 19, 2019