MONROE – Officer Monique Holt wanted to work in law enforcement from the time she was in the fifth grade. Little did she know her career as a police officer would eventually place her back within the walls of a school as a school resource officer.
“Back when I was in elementary school, I said I wanted to be a police officer to save the world,” Holt said. “Little did I know you can’t save the world as a cop, but you can help the people in it.”
Holt has been helping people through the Monroe Police Department for 10-and-a-half years, and she’s served as Monroe Middle School’s school resource officer, or SRO, for the past two years.
“I enjoy working with kids. I enjoy working with their parents, the staff, and I enjoy making that triangle connect between the school, the community and law enforcement,” Holt said.
Holt recently was honored as the Union County Public Schools 2014 SRO of the Year – a merit based on points accumulated through a credentialing process and interviews, according to a news release from UCPS. Monroe Middle Principal Mike Harvey said he’s incredibly proud of Holt and her service to the school, and that she’s very deserving of the honor.
“She is a very dynamic individual. She can be the firm, authoritative figure when she needs to be. She can be the soft, gentle person when she needs to be that, too,” Harvey said. “She’s a great listener to students when they have issues – they can come talk to her.”
Holt was first introduced to the school in 2007, when she began teaching the Gang Resistance Education And Training, or GREAT, program to sixth-graders. She also was certified to teach DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) to elementary students in 2008 and has brought the program to five Union County schools – Walter Bickett, Benton Heights, Rocky River and East elementary schools and Union Academy.
Holt became Monroe Middle’s SRO at the beginning of the 2012-13 school year. She performs a plethora of duties including patrolling the hallways in the morning and during class changes, cafeteria and car rider duties and responding to teachers’ calls for help.
But Holt’s role goes far beyond simply enforcing rules and regulations – she provides resources to the school’s students, teachers, parents and community. She still teaches GREAT to sixth-graders, heads up the Red Hawk Ladies’ Club and Red Cross Youth Club at Monroe Middle, attends parent conferences, mentors students and pays home visits when needed.
The most challenging thing about being an SRO, Holt said, is helping parents realize the need for law enforcement inside the school and why SROs are a vital part of the students’ lives.
“Sometimes (parents) think of the negative instead of the positive” when they see an officer at the school, Holt said. “Police are there, in this case, to protect kids, educate kids and (provide) the guidance that they need.”
Because she’s served the school system for seven years, Holt has seen firsthand the positive effects of the programs she’s been part of. She recently attended Monroe High School’s prom and ran into a former GREAT student, who talked about how much she enjoyed the class, thanked Holt and told her she still had her GREAT T-shirt.
“We know we can’t reach them all, but if we reach some of (the students), then we’ve done our job,” Holt said.
Being an SRO has taught Holt a lot about patience and understanding – something she said has helped her relate to the students on both a professional and personal level.
“You don’t know what they go through at home,” she said. “You have to be able to step into their zone and relate to them and find out what’s going on in their world, because everybody’s situation is different. All these kids are different.”
Holt hopes to continue growing the Red Cross Youth Club, which will host a blood drive next month, and become more involved with at-risk teens in the community.
“We have an awesome team here (at Monroe Middle),” she said. “We work very well together to get things done.”