After three years of serving and protecting students as the student resource officer at Harrison Township Elementary School, Katelin Macken said her goodbyes on June 15 with an emotional speech and a performance of the cha cha slide.
“The first year there was such a great impact with the students and all of the positivity,” she said.
Macken, whose role has been voluntary in the past two years, noted the positive atmosphere at school, given that police are taking a beating in the national culture these days. But her presence at first made some Harrison kids wary.
“To see the look on the kids’ faces when I first walked in during my first year, and to see how they were with someone in uniform, it scared them,“ Macken recalled. “Over time, just building that trust, that rapport, that relationship not only in school but meeting the kids and talking to their parents outside of school … that trust in the community was huge.”
Macken cited how one student’s fear lasted six months, but eventually, he came to trust her.
“To build that trust with an adult at school, especially someone in uniform, hopefully, one day that will change his future and mindset,” she explained.
When asked what she will miss the most, Macken mentioned the smiles on kids’ faces, as well as the camaraderie among teachers and staff members. She also noted the activities the school held before COVID.
“I’m going to miss the days where we had gingerbread houses that they would make during Christmas time before COVID,” she said. “When parents could not show up for certain things, I would go and substitute for them and leave work with powdered sugar or icing or peanut butter on my uniform.”
In her three years at the elementary school, Macken provided safety tips to kids and made sure they knew about staying safe in case of an active shooter. Now she will head back on the road with township police.
“Officer Kate Macken has been a vital part of our family and community over the past three years,” said Annalisa Rodano, the school’s principal. “We wish incredible success to Officer Kate on this next chapter in her professional career.”