East Greenbush Central School District has hired Deputy Jeff Russo from the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Department as its new school resource officer for Howard L. Goff Middle School. Deputy Russo will start the first day of school and be at Goff Middle School during school hours.
Deputy Russo (no relation to Sheriff Patrick Russo) has been a police officer for 16 years and is a certified School Resource Officer and School Resource Officer trainer. For the last six years, he has served as the Rensselaer County D.A.R.E. Officer, teaching 5th grade classrooms in seven different school districts.
Prior to becoming a police officer, Deputy Russo spent 10 years working with children at Berkshire Farm Center, Vanderheyden Hall, NYS Brookwood Secure Center and the NY State Central Register for Child Abuse.
“In my 26 years of employment following graduation from college, I have spent 16 years working directly with children and families,” Deputy Russo said. “I recognize the need for all children to have strong role models. I also recognize the need for police and communities to have strong relationships and open communication. School Resource Officers can serve many positive roles within the community. I love getting in front of children to discuss all aspects of good decision making, stress, peer pressure, bullying, internet safety and any other relevant topic. Being an SRO allows me to do that every day and I look forward to making many new connections.”
Deputy Russo was one of three candidates interviewed in August by a school district committee led by Superintendent Jeff Simons.
“Deputy Russo’s presence, visibility and interaction with students, staff and visitors to Goff will continue to ensure a positive, safe and healthy school climate,” Mr. Simons said. “We anticipate that Deputy Russo will be very visible and active within the school community offering programming for students, staff and families. Additionally, he will be a tremendous asset to the school district contributing to our school safety planning and procedures.”
The new position is modeled after the school resource officer role that has existed at Columbia High School for years. Similar to that position, Deputy Russo would be available to provide support and programming for other schools throughout the district. Coordination agreements already exist between the two law enforcement agencies.
Deputy Russo is attending the Superintendent’s Conference Days this week and will meet all of Goff Middle School’s teachers at the their faculty meeting.
“We are extremely excited and grateful to have Deputy Russo join our team at Goff,” said Principal Jill Barker. “His expertise working with students and presenting on topics that are pertinent to middle school students will educate our students and enhance our school culture.”