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SROs wear many hats in modern school setting

They’re educators.

They’re mentors and informal counselors.

And, yes, they are law enforcement officers too.

The roles school resource officers (SROs) take on were highlighted during a recent training organized by Intermediate Unit 17 on behalf of many districts within its boundaries that wanted to see if it could be offered locally. The training is required for anyone working as an SRO.

That was a smart move that saved the potential expenses of travel and lodging for these professionals that have come to be more common in schools than an apple on the teacher’s desk.

“The requests from our districts were overwhelming,” said Laura Klym, school outreach specialist with the unit.

The training was eye-opening, too, in pulling back the veil on what an SRO does.

It turns out an SRO is much more than a police officer.

For instance, they go into classrooms and provide law-related lessons on topics that are applicable to students, such as talking about the Fourth and Fifth amendments of the Constitution.

While they may not be certified as counselors, they become mentors in the school setting and send students “in the right direction,” according to Stacey Collis, a trainer with the National Association of School Resource Officers, who shared his view of a school as a small community.

It’s a community filled with “teen brains,” one of many topics that were featured during the week.

Of course, responding to threats and preventing violence — preparing for it — also was covered.

While we may like to live in a “Leave it to Beaver” world, the reality of the 21st century is that it’s much more challenging for kids just to be kids these days.

To that end, we should all be thankful that our schools are staffed with these invaluable professionals, an increasingly important part of the education community.

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