Dennis Foster is Manteca Unified School District’s Coordinator of Safety & Emergency Preparedness.
A former high school principal in the Sacramento area, he’s been on job for the past six months. Foster brings an administrator’s perspective when it comes to student safety – most in his position usually have law enforcement backgrounds.
“We’re providing another set of eyes,” Foster said, referring to Wednesday’s Crossing Guard Training sessions involving MUSD classified staff, in particular, school site assistants or campus monitors.
This unique safety training is being held once a week throughout this month for those serving as crossing guards.
Caitlin Pearsall, who is the district’s Communications Specialist, calls it a “specialized training to promote student safety.”
She pointed out that this was the first-ever safety training specifically for crossing guards at MUSD, and will “help support the vital role that classified staff play in keeping students safe as they enter and exit school each day,” Pearsall said.
Foster along with Jennifer Lampley of Keenan Safe Schools Training – job-specific training is designed to offer scenario-based training courses – spearheaded the sessions.
About 100 MUSD employees are scheduled to take part in one of the four training sessions in August.
“Safety is important to our community,” Foster said to the 15 or so crossing guards at the training session held at the district office complex. “You’re being counted on to protect our kids.”
Lampley is a Loss Control Advisor with Keenan, having worked with over two dozen school districts in identifying hazards and improving the safety culture of employees for the past five years.
Every school site and community in MUSD is different, Foster said. Because of that, he noted that crossing guards must be aware of their surroundings. “They have to watch students as they walk down the street – they’ll also look out for anything suspicious,” Foster added.
The district consists Manteca, Lathrop, French Camp and the south Stockton community of Weston Ranch. School sites such as Nile Garden and New Haven are located in the rural areas while Lincoln and Golden West are both on or around the two busiest thoroughfares in the City of Manteca – Yosemite Avenue and Main Street, respectively.
Foster noted that those at the training sessions had a chance to discuss the interworking of their school site. “They talked about their issues and shared ideas,” he said.
The hope at the session was to create relationships among the crossing guards at the various sites while developing a baseline for a safety plan.
“From here, they’ll go back to their sites and take what they’ve learned in providing a better, safer school,” Foster said.