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SROs contribute safety expertise to elementary curriculum 

on October 30, 2019

School resource officer sits down with a group of kindergartners. One student is speaking to him and the officer is listening.“Do you know the candy store in town? Imagine you are standing across the street from it and want to go buy some candy. How do you get to the store?” 

That’s how School Resource Officer (SRO) Brian Luthin started his crosswalk safety lesson to Suesette White’s kindergartners at Park Avenue Elementary. 

SRO Luthin and SRO Katie Ostero serve Warwick Valley’s two elementary schools on alternate weekly schedules. As part of a developing safety-centered curriculum for grades K-4, they are pushing into classrooms to teach students on a range of age-appropriate safety topics. 

“SROs are a valuable resource and community partner, and they are part of our students’ daily learning experience,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Leach. “As a district, we prioritize the physical, social and emotional safety and well-being of our students. So we asked ourselves, ‘What can our students’ learn from our SROs about safety and safe choices, and their place in the community?’”  

The kindergarten safety unit

A school resource officer looks on as three kindergartners cross the street outside the school building.A school resource officer walks a few steps behind two students as they practice crosswalk safety.The kindergaten’s crosswalk safety unit begins with an introductory conversation in the classroom, followed by the practice of “stop, look both ways, and listen” on a real crosswalk, on the school roadway. Students are paired in twos and threes as a reminder that they should hold hands with an adult before crossing the street. 

After practice, the SROs return to the classroom with the students to go over what they have learned and answer any questions. 

“I was scared, I thought I wasn’t able to do it, but I did it!” one student said to SRO Luthin.

“If you start crossing and a car comes fast, can you go back?” another student asked. “Yes, if you see a car coming, you can always go back,” Officer Luthin replied. 

Kindergartners are also being encouraged to learn their family’s emergency phone number and their address. 

Safety lessons in grades 1-4

In the months ahead, the elementary SROs will be pushing into the classrooms of grades 1-4 to cover other age-appropriate safety topics.

First-graders will learn when it’s safe to share personal and family information, and with whom; second-graders will learn how to handle common emergencies, matching different scenarios with the best emergency contact. 

The safety curriculum for grades 3-4 will make connections with Park Avenue’s ROAR and Sanfordville’s PAWS programs which emphasize making good choices. Topics will range identifying risky situations and making safe choices by thinking about future outcomes; learning how to respond to peer and societal pressure; and empowering students to say “no.” 

The SRO program

While the SRO program is part of the district’s response to increased threats to school safety, the district’s broader vision for its SRO program is to help build healthy and enduring relationships between law enforcement and the school community. 

“Beyond the expertise and experience SROs can contribute to our students’ learning, the relationship of trust they develop with our local law enforcement will have long-lasting benefits for the Warwick Valley community,” Dr. Leach said. 

Those budding relationships were plain to see when SRO Katie and SRO Brian—as they are known to students and staff—addressed most kindergartners by their name during the unit lessons, less than two months into the school year. 

 

 

 

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