April 19, 2024

Campus Monitors: Guardians of Safety

At Ames High School and Ames Middle School, a team of five is pivotal in fostering a safe, supportive, and engaging learning environment for students and staff alike. With a visible presence throughout the campus, this dedicated team, known as Campus Monitors, ensures the well-being and security of all members of the Ames school community. This role has been in both schools since the fall of 2021.

“Campus monitors have a unique job that goes beyond just monitoring the building to ensure the safety of students and staff. They are “warm demanders’,” says Dr. Paul Numedahl, Principal at Ames High School. “They hold students to an appropriate standard of behavior, but use an interpersonal approach that responds with dignity, respect, and caring. This in turn helps to enhance and sustain a positive and caring school culture.” 

Each Campus Monitor brings their own unique education, background, and knowledge to the role. 

Tracie Cameron holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations with a sociology minor and an impressive 24-year tenure in educational environments. Ra’Janique Richardson, beginning her career right out of high school as a Direct Support Professional at Milestone, Inc., spent five years assisting elderly patients with intellectual, developmental, and mental disabilities. Perry Moore, drawing from nine years of experience as part of the Boone High School support staff and his background as a Security Officer at Microsoft and a Technician at Amazon, rounds out the team of three at AHS. With nearly 13 years of experience working with at-risk youth at YSS and Woodward Academy, Bob Lutter adds invaluable insight to the team, having earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Simpson College. Jacob Rick, who joined him in the dedication to school safety at AMS, transitioned from his role as an Educational Assistant at Fellows Elementary to become a member of the campus monitor team. Together, they unite to ensure a safe environment for students and staff at both AHS and AMS.

From greeting students as they arrive each day to providing guidance, support, and assistance when needed, each Campus Monitor contributes significantly to AHS and AMS’s overall success and atmosphere with a focus on collaboration, empathy, and proactive intervention. Campus Monitors also use their positions to get to know the students in their buildings.

“We begin to build relationships with students,” said Cameron. “We have the opportunity to connect, ask how their day is going, share a positive comment, and see if they need anything as we walk them to classes or see them in the building.”

Actively fostering relationships by engaging with students, inquiring about their well-being, and offering positive affirmations makes it easier when Campus Monitors have to hold students accountable. 

“Although, I do push the expectations as far as good behavior, being on time, and just overall getting the students to class,” says Richardson. “I do understand that our students face adversities just as everyone else does. Therefore, I do extend an olive branch when it comes to either being a resource for our students or directing them to a resource here on campus.”

Campus monitors play a pivotal role in upholding accountability in the school environment. Through vigilant patrolling of hallways and other school grounds during the busy school day, particularly between classes, they ensure students are where they are supposed to be – in class – and that no disruptive behavior interrupts the learning environment. Their watchful presence reinforces attendance policies and contributes significantly to overall safety within the school building. By diligently monitoring student activities and movement, campus monitors ensure that students and staff can focus on academic pursuits without undue distractions.

According to Rick, building connections with students while maintaining safety is a unique challenge. “There is no one thing that works all the time, each student has their own needs and personality,” he adds. “Taking the time to do introductions and rather than insert myself into their school routine I listen and observe first.”

“We try to see things building before they escalate to the point that people are fighting,” said Lutter. “We work together to report things that we see between students so we can prevent them.”

“Part of keeping the building safe is making sure that students are where they are supposed to be,” adds Moore. “When a student is avoiding their class there is usually a reason, and they don’t often know where to go for help.”

Recognizing signs of student struggle is a daily task. These professionals are often the first line of defense when it comes to identifying students who may be experiencing difficulties, whether it be academic, social, emotional, or behavioral. By remaining vigilant and attuned to subtle cues, campus monitors can intervene early and connect struggling students with the necessary support systems, such as counselors, teachers, or other resources available within the school. Proactive identification and intervention help prevent potential crises and foster a supportive and nurturing environment where all students can thrive academically and personally. 

“Helping the students who really need it, the ones who don’t know how or are unable to ask for help,” said Perry. “Getting them to the help that they need, and then seeing them get past their struggles and go on to succeed and graduate is very rewarding.”

Campus monitors are meant to be the eyes and ears on the ground at AMS and AHS. They keep an eye out for people who shouldn’t be at the school or situations that don’t look right, often serving as the first line of defense in case of a threat. As an additional measure, a Campus Monitor will now actively monitor the AHS campus during the school day. As part of the new high school, multiple interior and exterior security cameras view activity around and outside the building. The three campus monitors will have a rotating schedule so that one is watching camera footage. 

While security cameras are installed in both buildings, their presence is consistent with the necessity of active patrols throughout each building. Despite this, effectively covering all 430,000 square feet of the new Ames High presents a considerable challenge. The expansive size of the school compounds the difficulty in ensuring comprehensive surveillance and responding to potential security concerns. Thus, a combination of static security measures like cameras and dynamic patrols by security personnel is essential to maintaining a vigilant and secure environment throughout the entire premises. 

“We’re taking a dual approach to maximize the school’s ability to detect and address any safety issues promptly and effectively,” says Dr. Paul Numedahl, Ames High Principal, “reinforcing the commitment to the safety and well-being of students, faculty, and staff at Ames High.”

Adding P3 Campus brings another layer of safety to our entire school community. P3 Campus is an anonymous reporting tool designed to empower students, parents, staff, and the community to report their concerns regarding safety, bullying, or other issues that could impact our school community. It allows individuals to share information confidentially, helping local authorities and school officials respond swiftly and effectively.

Students can use the P3 Campus app to report bullying, suicide concerns, depression, stealing, threats, vaping, abuse, fights, drugs, alcohol, weapons, or other types of dangerous situations that threaten their safety or the safety of others. Reports are addressed by a trained team of school and law enforcement officials. Their report is 100% anonymous. 

One thing that rises above all the building connections, monitoring, and enforcement is Campus Monitors care deeply about the students and staff in each of their buildings. When asked, each monitor smiles, thinking about the most rewarding aspects of their jobs. 

“Being able to see the successes of the students, as well the staff and teachers,” said Rick when asked what he finds most rewarding. “As a monitor I become an objective observer for the diligent efforts put in each day; to be able to hear about the passed tests, the growth in literacy, comradery of the sports teams, and the relationship between students and staff fostered. There is so much positivity and compassion, more so than the more commonly heard stresses of the school system.”

“Building relationships with our students. It’s been amazing getting to know so many of your children,” says Cameron. “They truly do feel like our kids. We look forward to seeing them at school and sharing what interests them. We applaud their successes and are empathetic when they struggle.”

“Building relationships with students, being active with them and talking about their interests,” adds Lutter. “[I] love seeing the students’ success both in the classroom and in their sports and clubs.”

Along with the relationships built with students, another area Campus Monitors emphatically agree about is parents and guardians’ role in collaborating for school safety. Collaboration between parents and guardians with Campus Monitors and school Administration is essential for enhancing school safety. Parents and guardians can start by establishing open lines of communication and staying informed about security protocols and procedures. Encouraging their children to respect and cooperate with Campus Monitors is crucial, emphasizing the importance of following school rules and promptly reporting concerns. By working together, parents, guardians, and Campus Monitors can create a unified front that promotes a safe and secure learning environment for all students.

“Our goal is to work with you and for your children to have the tools to become successful, proud and productive members of society,” said Cameron. “It takes a team – educators, parents and students all working together to attain a common goal.”