Police and community discuss pressing school issues

By Devra Daigle - ReminderNews
South Windsor - posted Thu., Sep. 26, 2013
Youth and Victim Services Manager Sgt. Tina Ferrante, alongside school outreach coordinator Kathy Reed, greeted parents with coffee, pastries and safety tips for their teenagers.  Photo by Devra Daigle.
Youth and Victim Services Manager Sgt. Tina Ferrante, alongside school outreach coordinator Kathy Reed, greeted parents with coffee, pastries and safety tips for their teenagers. Photo by Devra Daigle.

Parents of school-aged children gathered with South Windsor police officers on Sept. 24 to share thoughts and concerns about the problems facing children today within the school environment. The program, entitled “Cops, Coffee and Conversation,” was developed to introduce the town’s new school resource officer (SRO) for the elementary schools and to discuss the relative changes amongst today’s youth. 

The event was organized by Sgt. Tina Ferrante, who is also manager of the Youth and Victim Services Bureau for the town of South Windsor.  Also in attendance was Kathy Reed, who leads the school outreach services for the town, Nancy Larson, principal of Timothy Edwards Middle School and Officer Tina Roy, who presented at the event.

For the last several years, there has been a SRO present both at the middle school and the high school in town. Following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of last year, however, the town pushed for funding to provide the elementary schools with an officer for the five elementary schools. 

“By providing a healthy exposure to police officers at a young age, teachers and members of the community will see a better quality of student in the middle school and that will carry with them through high school,” Roy explained.  Peggy Sue Clouser, a nine-year member of the SWPD, will be assigned the task of visiting and communicating with the elementary schools in an effort to form this positive relationship.

Roy, who has been with the SWPD for the last 12 years, led the majority of the discussion.  She is the current SRO at Timothy Edwards Middle School and takes great pride in the impact the position has had on the students there.  “I serve as a bridge between the communication with the families and their impressionable teens. Tonight I hope to give an avenue of discussion to parents in an effort to close the gap between parent and child,” Roy said. 

Roy’s PowerPoint presentation and discussion was centered on what she said is the most pressing problem affecting today’s middle schools: Internet safety.  She gave an overview of the dangers of many sites such as askfm.com, as well as better-known websites frequented by teens like Instagram.  Roy explained that “there are definitely red flags to be on the lookout for that will give parents insight into issues like cyber bullying, sexting and revealing personal information - all common practices of teen computer use." 

Robin Pendlton, grandfather to 9- and 11-year-old South Windsor grandchildren, said, “It’s the day and age of computers, and we can’t get rid of them, so we as parents have to spend more time learning about them.”

Reed organizes community and mentoring programs for teens. “I like to consider myself a liaison for getting families and kids to work together,” Reed explained.

Larson acknowledged that Sandy Hook has sparked more interest in police presence in the schools as well as encouraging kids to look at law enforcement in a new light. “There is not a day goes by where Officer Roy’s office is not full of kids.  You can spot Officer Roy running with the kids at gym or eating with them at lunch. That’s the wonderful impact she has on our kids,” Larson said.

Clouser held a similar meeting on Sept. 24, as did Officer Brian Eckblom, on Sept. 26, representing the high school resource officers, all part of the “Cops, Coffee and Conversation” program.

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