STILLMAN VALLEY (WREX) – This week’s Teacher of the Week award recipient is not a teacher at all, but instead, a school resource officer at Meridian Community Unit School District 223.
Officer Evan Ruggeberg was nominated for the award by Hannah Anderson, a student at Stillman Valley High School.
“It just thought it would be a little different than a regular teacher, to have an SRO, school resource officer, who just interacts with the students so much, and who is just respectful to everyone, and who is just really nice,” Anderson said.
Anderson has done a lot to make sure Ruggeberg feels welcome at Stillman Valley High School, as it is his first year as a school resource officer. She even made Ruggeberg a gift during his first couple of weeks at the school.
“I was drinking coffee one morning here in the MP room, and she comes in and she goes ‘nice cup,’ and I said, ‘well thanks,’ and then she hands me a cup that she made,” Ruggeberg said.
Anderson said she made the coffee cup, complete with the words “Officer Rugge” and the law enforcement American flag with the thin blue line printed on, because she saw his using the same mug everyday, and she wanted to do something nice.
“What better way to welcome someone than with a gift,” she said.
Ruggeberg said he uses the new coffee cup every day at work.
Even though Ruggeberg is not a teacher, he said he still wants to teach students to break preconceived notions about law enforcement, and to realize that police officers are just regular members of the community.
“And I think we’re seeing progress and positives, I don’t know if I want to call it an anomaly, but some really cool stuff happening with the kids and law enforcement,” Ruggeberg said.
Anderson said she learns things from Ruggeberg everyday, and sometimes it’s nice to learn from a fresh face and voice other than teachers and parents.
“He just teaches you how to respect to other, and just some life lessons,” Anderson said.
She said in addition to being a fresh face in the hallways, she feels much safer at school knowing that Officer Ruggeberg is there to protect the building.
Ruggeberg said he loves his new position at the school, because he spends most of his day making relationships with students rather than policing.
“One of the things that I told the kids when I came here was that I’m not the fashion police, I’m not the hall pass cop, my issue is security,” Ruggeberg said. “I want to make sure everybody gets to go home. If we can stop a bad thing from happening here then that’s what we do, so that’s my job.”
And students quickly learned that Ruggeberg was going to be a great asset to the school.
“When I first saw him I was like dang it’s going to be super strict, we’re not going to have any fun but he definitely makes it like 10 times better around here, like if you see him you can just joke with him, its always fun when he’s around,” student Destiny McManaway said.