Important Dates Ahead –
First Day of School: September 5
Back to School Night, Grades 1 – 6: September 14
The members of Blairstown Elementary School’s Board of Education were in good spirits during their August 17 meeting. A newly realigned Language Arts curriculum is ready for the upcoming school year, the school’s strategic plan is moving along, and in the change that will be most visible to students, a new School Resource Officer has come aboard.
His name is Ty Coronato. He’s lived in Hardwick for the past six years, and two BES students already know him quite well: his eight and ten-year-old sons. Two older children attend school elsewhere in the district.
“They’re very excited to have me there,” Coronato said. “My family’s excited as a whole for this position because it gives back to the community.”
The SRO position at BES was first announced in a July Blairstown Town Council meeting after a concerning incidence of school violence nationwide raised parental concerns.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice website, “SROs are sworn law enforcement officers responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools.” The website lists the four main roles of an SRO as law enforcer, mentor, educator, and emergency manager.
Little ones might have a hard time wrapping their head around that definition. If a student asks him what his job is, Coronato plans to give a simpler, age-appropriate explanation.
“I’ll explain to them that I am there for them… for whatever they need, and to answer any questions about policing, and just to make this school an overall safer place,” he said.
Superintendent Dr. Patrick Ketch says that Coronato will work in BES on a daily basis.
Coronato previously worked in the Street Gang Unit of the New Jersey State Police for 22 years. He’s happy for the opportunity to work on another side of policing while modeling a positive image of police for children.
“I’m looking forward to being the guy standing in front of the school, you know, giving kids a high five in the morning and giving them a sense of, hey, this is what policing is about,” Coronato said “It’s not always everything you see on TV. We’re human, too.”
It helps that Coronato is already well-familiar with the local community, and vice versa. His two younger sons are Cub Scouts, his oldest son is a Boy Scout, and all of his kids are heavily involved in sports– “football, baseball, soccer, you name it,” he said.
He’s enjoyed becoming a part of the greater Blairstown community, noting it’s “very tight knit” and that the people here are “absolutely fantastic as a whole.” He says that he’s looking forward to the role as a chance “to give back to and interact with a community that I am deeply involved with and that I deeply care about.”
In his new role as SRO, Coronato also hopes that community members will feel free to engage with him, too. “When they see me at the school during drop off or pickup or at a school function, come and talk to me,” he says.
“I’ll be more than happy to engage with whoever’s looking to have a conversation with me. In fact, I encourage it.”
Chip O'Chang, Contributing Writer
Chip O'Chang is an educator, fiction writer, and lifelong resident of New Jersey. He has also written for My Life Publications and NJ Indy. He lives in the NJ Skylands with his partner, two cats, and and a bearded dragon.