The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

The official student newspaper of Lower Merion High School since 1929

The Merionite

Ex-cops aid LM Campus

Passing by campus aides many times each day, students may not be aware that a percentage of them are former police officers with plenty of experience and wisdom.

LM’s hallways are not distinct in their style. If visiting almost any public suburban Pennsylvania high school, viewers will see the same tiled flooring and walls of lockers. Even the maroon and white color scheme is a common one across American schools. What differentiates LM from “just another high school” are the exemplary students, teachers, and staff; campus aides are no exception. 

On the surface, an LM student may pay little attention to the staff in the school, being caught up in their own busy lives. But every staff member adds value to LM, each bringing in their own life-learned skills and histories—some of which are more similar than expected.

Graphic by Ilana Zahavy ’24/Staff

Of the six campus aides at LM, there are two that have a history as police officers. Though already a large percentage of their group, LM has had an even bigger number in the past, with five campus aides possessing a background in law enforcement, according to campus aide Ed Monroe. Monroe has had a long and extensive history in the police department, with more than thirty years of experience under his belt. His work focused on public speaking and SWAT team management, but as school safety cultivated into a national issue, his main job in the police department was to create school safety programs and teach them within school systems. Eventually, Monroe was recruited into the school system itself, becoming Director of Public Safety at Haverford High School and continuing to work with other nearby schools. However, he also revealed that being a policeman “isn’t what you see on TV.” Instead, being in law enforcement includes a lot of talking to people, learning to understand them, and building trust–a skill that is needed in student safety and management as a campus aide. In fact, “there are a lot of similarities and people don’t recognize it. There are skills that you need here that others may not have.” It takes time to develop the ability to both set important boundaries and be able to let certain things go, which can be true in both job titles. Being able to build relationships with students and other staff members requires empathy, even in challenging situations, which occur frequently, as “rules at LM are straightforward but not widely followed,” he informed. 

Although it is just an aspect of the county, LM serves as a microcosm of safety—a place to protect students and to serve the school. When Ed Monroe began at LM, picking from the two high schools within the district, there was already an understanding of the best way to get the job done. He had already faced emergency situations or dealt with a wide spectrum of people. Therefore, the transition was simple because, according to Monroe, people “are similar no matter where or what school you go to.” Students are all dealing with similar things. 

Mr. Monroe is just one of the many campus aides who use their labor and lifelong lessons while working at LM, creating a school environment that is able to run as smoothly as possible. While the correlation between police work and campus protection may not be seen on the surface, the reality is concrete. 

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