Rockford Police Officers are sworn to serve and protect, but sometimes serving can happen in the classroom.
Officer Todd Drager may not be a teacher by trade, but the lessons he teaches can serve students for a lifetime.
Drager is the School Resource Officer for Rolling Green School.
“I think it’s fantastic, just from the standpoint of myself, to be able to interact with the kids and build that rapport,” he said.
One school at a time, one student at a time, Officer Drager is making a difference in many of Rockford’s youngest minds.
For Rolling Green students, that can happen with a high-five in the hallway, or an interaction in art or music class.
Fifth-grade student Lizbeth Valles said, “In the music room, he sat by me and he didn’t understand [the lesson], so I had to tell him how to pack the drum or how to do the patterns. On the metalaphones, he didn’t know which mallets to choose, so I had to help him with which mallet to choose according to the instrument.”
Drager says he feels he plays an important role in student development by reinforcing what they’re learning in the classroom.
“I had a young man with me that was explaining the whole project, step by step, because I had a lot of questions,” Drager said. “The best way that you can actually know that somebody learned something is if they can turn around and then teach it to someone else. That means they fully comprehend.”
While Drager’s actions inside the classroom can help stimulate minds, he can teach them life lessons, to make sure students don’t go down the wrong path.
Principal Holly Lyman said, “This is a time that they can make a mistake and we can teach them. But, then we can follow up with what’s going to happen in the real world, if this happens. It’s a great real-world connection to bring him in on a conversation like that.”
Drager said, “We are here for them and if they have good, bad, or ugly days or situations, that they know they can approach us to talk with us and we can help try, to the best of our ability, lead them in the right direction.”
In addition to Rolling Green, Officer Drager is also the resource officer for five other elementary schools and two middle schools.
He visits each one of them once or twice a week.