By Dedra Cordle
When Kert Lanam needs someone to look over his documents for grammatical errors or needs advice on how something he wrote could be clarified further, the school resource officer at Central Crossing High School often asks Principal Jill Burke to look it over before he sends the correspondence.
But when he finished working on a secret project that related to her several months ago, Lanam knew he could not seek her guidance.
“Normally I would have had someone else at the school to look over my papers if she was unavailable, but with this project I couldn’t ask anyone in the building to help me,” he explained.
While not exactly brimming with complete confidence, Lanam sent his top secret essay extolling her dedication to the safety of the community to the Ohio School Resource Officers Association for consideration for their annual Distinguished School Service Award.
He said he hoped that what he wrote propelled her to the top of the consideration list.
“I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had won because I knew the criteria the association asked for (with this award) was there, but I didn’t know if I had done a good enough job writing the letter,” Lanam said with a laugh.
When his essay arrive at the association’s office, it was reviewed by a panel of law enforcement officers and put in the pile for further consideration. The process was repeated a few more times until Burke was determined to be the association’s 2017 Distinguished School Service Award recipient for her commitment to school safety and the SRO program.
Informed about the good news, Lanam once again kept quiet about this secret mission until one day a few weeks ago, Burke was invited to a conference room in the school where the deputy superintendent of the South-Western City Schools District was present and a box of tissues was situated in the middle of the table.
Burke braced herself for bad news.
When she was informed that she had been named the recipient of the OSROA’s distinguished award, she said she felt as if she was in a state of shock.
“I was quiet at first, and then I felt dumbfounded and then shocked,” she laughed. “I had set myself up for a horrible announcement.”
She said once her irritation at Lanam for his secrecy and the conference room set up had passed, she was honored by his nomination and humbled by the recognition.
“I’m incredibly humbled by this award but I feel as if this is a testament to the strength of the team in this building,” said Burke, referring to the dedication from the school staff and Lanam.
She said she considers the award to be a positive indicator of the collaborative effort to make Central Crossing a safe and welcoming environment to all who pass through its doors.