School resource officers (SRO) aim to meet all of the students in their districts, and have an active presence in the schools they serve.
Deputy Erin Reddington of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office was recently selected as Big Spring School District’s second SRO, and she plans to be at the schools, whether it’s being there when the students get off the bus, or when they rotate in between classes. She may even stop into a gym class every once in awhile to run around alongside the kids.
She will begin her tenure for the upcoming 2019-20 school year next week during “Bulldog Basics” where she will help incoming sixth graders become accustomed to their new school.
“I really am anxious to get up there, and check everything out,” she said. “I want to get in the groove, and see what I can expand upon.”
The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office leads the process for selecting SROs. However, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kevin Roberts and one other administrator sat in on the interviews to help the district and sheriff's office come to a mutually agreed upon candidate, Superintendent Dr. Richard Fry said.
“Deputy Reddington was ultimately selected due to her experience with our office, positive interactions with persons of all ages, ability to connect with kids, professionalism, promoting positive relationships, ability to mentor, and ability to think outside the box (in no particular order),” wrote Chief Deputy Sheriff Jody Smith in an email to The Valley Times-Star.
There were four or five candidates who interviewed with the panel comprised of Sheriff's Office supervisors and administrators from the Big Spring School District, according to Smith.
Deputy Brian Grzyboski was the first SRO hired by the district in 2016.
Grzyboski's office will remain in the high school, and Reddington’s office will be in the middle school. The pair will split time covering the three elementary schools. Reddington shadowed Grzyboski at the end of last school year, and met some of the middle school staff.
Big Spring Middle School Principal Clarissa Nace plans to gradually acclimate Reddington into the lives of her students with opportunities to greet her, rather than hold a special assembly.
“It all starts with relationships, no matter if it's the high school, middle school or elementary schools,” she said.
She also envisions Reddington getting involved with class and elective lessons revolving around discussions of drugs/alcohol, or mental health with social/emotional components. The middle school building also has new flexible seating options, Nace said, and encourages her faculty and staff to get out and eat with their kids. She hopes Reddington will become part of this culture.
Although there will now be two SROs roaming the halls of Big Spring schools, she has never doubted that safety wasn’t a top priority for the district.
“It's just another added layer,” she said. “I take pride in knowing that our district puts safety first.”
Nace also noted the different perspective a female will bring to the role of SRO.
The two SROs may have their offices in different buildings, but both will have a presence in all of the buildings and work together, Roberts said at a previous school board meeting.
During the summer or any other periods of extended break, the SROs will return to their posts with the county until school resumes.
Reddington, a 2001 graduate of Boiling Springs High School, is most looking forward to working with the kids, and being part of their day-to-day lives in the building.
Part of her long-term vision as an SRO in the district is being able to teach students and parents about the dangers of cyberbullying, or simulating a mock traffic stop.
“I really want to be hands-on. I want to be in the classroom, and I want to be in the office as little as possible,” she said.
Reddington graduated from the Pennsylvania Sheriff’s Academy in 2016. The deputy previously served as a corrections officer and a booking officer for the Cumberland County Prison. Before that, she was in the medical field as an emergency medical technician (EMT), and medical assistant.
Reddington is a resident of Boiling Springs. She is married with two children.