School resource officer debuts in Libertyville District 70
Among those attending the first day of class Wednesday in Libertyville Elementary District 70 was a newcomer who expects to become a well-known presence at all five schools.
Libertyville police officer Rachel Heyde, a former high school Spanish teacher and dean of students, now is serving as the district's first student resource officer.
"For me, it's just an amazing opportunity, and I do feel my background in education will serve me well in this position," said the four-year veteran of the Libertyville force.
District 70 Superintendent Guy Schumacher said the idea for a school resource officer has been percolating for years and is not the result of a specific incident or need.
"This wasn't reactionary," he said. "It was getting the collaboration with the village to make this happen."
The school board approved an agreement last May, and the village board followed. The entities are splitting the approximate $100,000 cost.
Police in recent years have made a point to visit District 70 schools, but the new position is kind of a throwback to "Officer Friendly" days, Schumacher said.
"She gets this," said Schumacher, who visited classes with Heyde on Wednesday. "She's all about building relationships with the staff and schools and the children."
Called "Officer Heyde" (pronounced "Heidi") by students, she will have an office at Highland Middle School but already has been supplied with mascot-friendly gear for the other buildings.
A big part of the job will be working with Schumacher and principals to develop units of instruction on topics such as internet safety and bullying, Heyde said. She also will serve as a "law-related educator" to students and staff members and a liaison with police.
She will investigate crimes that occur in schools or school properties, assist with traffic control and maintain a high level of visibility.
"This position allows students to regularly have positive interactions with law enforcement, which helps build positive relationships and strengthens our community," Heyde said.
She also will visit classes at St. Joseph Catholic School and St. John Lutheran Church and School.
"We wanted her to be available to all the grade schools in the village," Libertyville police Lt. Bill Kinast said.
Heyde has a bachelor's degree in Spanish and education, and a master's in educational leadership with a Type 75 certificate that allows her to become a school administrator. She began her teaching career at Wheaton North High School and did her first work as a dean at Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville.