School resource officer Nate Dunlavy reported to the Estherville City Council on his first eight weeks on the job at Estherville Lincoln Central schools at Monday night's meeting.
"It's gone extremely well," Dunlavy said. "I get to talk to all the kids, and it really helps some of their days go a lot better. It's great to see them light up when they see me walking in the hallway. Some of the kids do not have the greatest home lives. It's been really enlightening for me."
Dunlavy added, "At the Estherville Police Department, we sometimes get into a routine. This has brought me into a completely different comfort zone and helped my communication skills a great deal."
Dunlavy reported 12 ways he has jumped into his new role at the schools.
1. Dunlavy has taken steps to become fully certified as a school resource officer. Summer's classes will bring more ideas for programming with the students.
2. Dunlavy performs security checks of the perimeter doors to all three buildings. "[Potential invaders] don't know where I am at any given time," Dunlavy said.
3. Dunlavy said, "I make contact with a lot of kids each day with high fives, or hugs if they need them."
4. Dunlavy attends staff meetings to talk with the grade-level teams about anything they might need for a particular student or for instruction or programming with their students.
5. ALICE: Dunlavy has completed ALICE active shooter response training with all grades. "Most kids are now covered," Dunlavy said. The first week of DARE (Drug Awareness and Resistance Education) Dunlavy went through ALICE with the fifth graders.
6. DARE: Dunlavy said he is incorporating lessons in drug prevention all the way through the grades. For fifth graders, instead of an immersive approach where he came to the school daily for two weeks, he is meeting with the students once per day for ten weeks. "It's really neat because now I'm still in the school so I can be with them throughout the year and beyond," Dunlavy said.
7. Lunch: Dunlavy said he eats with groups of students from elementary through middle school grades. "It's a good chance to find out what's going on," Dunlavy said. Dunlavy also has lunch with individual students who are on behavior plans as an incentive. "These are the kids who are drawn to me," Dunlavy said. "Ninety percent of what we do is reactionary. We have the chance to prevent behaviors before they start, and reward good behaviors for those who need extra incentive."
8. Traffic: Dunlavy said he addressed the traffic issues at Demoney Elementary School and improved them.
9. Law enforcement: Dunlavy deals with thefts, fights that reach the level law enforcement would be called, and incidents of criminal mischief.
10. Visibility: Dunlavy said his presence has had a reassuring effect on students.
11. Truancy: Dunlavy deals with cases of chronic truancy.
12. Future officers: Dunlavy meets with the Wednesday groups at the high school. One of these is for students possibly interested in a future career in law enforcement.
Superintendent Tara Paul was also in attendance at the city council meeting. Paul said, "I have nothing but positive things to say."
Dunlavy concluded, "It's great to see the kids' smiling faces every day."