ROCHELLE — It has been nearly four months since Jim Jakymiw started as school resource officer for the Rochelle elementary district.
The Rochelle police officer gave an update to members of city council Monday evening.
In his presentation, Jakymiw explained the goals of an SRO and brought council up to speed on his training he received as well as what he experiences during a typical day. He also shared some light-hearted moments, showing an official “first day” picture and of him donning costumes during Halloween and Christmas.
As SRO, Jakymiw’s goals are to provide a safe learning environment, foster positive relationships with the students and provide a valuable resource to school staff. He also said his position’s goals are to develop strategies to help resolve problems affecting youth and protecting all students so they can reach their fullest potentials.
Through training and following the National Association of School Resource Officer’s triad model, Jakymiw’s position is first as a law enforcement officer, along with being a teacher and guest speaker and an informal counselor or mentor.
Early on in his position, he went to every classroom to introduce himself and explain why he is at the school. Since then, his days consist of greeting the students at the beginning and ending of the school day, during each of the three lunch periods and being present during passing periods.
Jakymiw also explained a typical day consists of an early morning walk through of the building and checking doors as well as discussions with school administration and staff as needed.
“Yes, I am a law enforcement officer, but I am so much more than that,” he began. “It’s about making them feel safe so they can concentrate and focus on their studies but then also being a resource for them if they have questions regarding law enforcement or honestly anything at all. That’s where the informal counselor comes into play, which I think the most important part of being an SRO … It’s about making those relationships and connections where they can have that trust with you and come to you with any issues and be readily available, visible and proactive with the students.”
He added that a big part of training is to help bridge the gap between the public and the police.
“Being an informal counselor and providing the students with resources and helping guide them through problem solving skills and strategies to resolve issues, such as bullying and social media problems … I have worked with the counselors already at the school and I think it’s going really great,” he said. “I love interacting with kids and staff, it has been awesome.”
Jakymiw said he has continual conversations with students on how their decisions have consequences not only now but as they get older how any decisions they make will have an importance on their future.
“I get to assist staff during every lunch period, and I enjoy that time. The kids let their guard down a little bit, they are with their friends having lunch so that’s a great opportunity for me to walk around, maybe talk about sports or ask how they are doing with school or what they did over the weekend,” he said. “It’s the casual conversations … they mean a lot more because it’s those types of conversations that build relationships. You have to build and trust and a rapport with students.”
Jakymiw said all students and staff at the middle school have been trained in active shooter response training; drills are continually done. He has also spoken with different classrooms on topics coinciding with the curriculum, such as human trafficking and in science to talk about synthetic materials. He brought in his bulletproof vest for a hands-on discussion.
“I have had a whole lot of fun being an SRO,” he said. “I had an opportunity to get in the classrooms … I enjoy talking with them during the day and in the cafeteria but when you can get together in the classroom and make eye contacts and answer any questions, that’s important.”