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Making a difference — 1 child at a time

More than 30 years ago, Ted Herman was an Albert Lea High School student, soon to be a Marine. Today, he is making sure Albert Lea students are given a safe education.

Herman — a 1983 Albert Lea High School graduate — is the school resource officer for Albert Lea Area Schools.

As the resource officer, Herman helps enforce city and state statutes, school rules and regulations, serves as a liaison between the district and the Albert Lea Police Department, and oversees programs.

“Basically, it’s my own community as a police officer,” Herman said. “There’s 3,300 students in the district, so I deal with the students, the parents and the staff. So, I kind of do everything, kind of like a regular police officer — drugs, fighting, domestics, the whole gamut.”

Herman — who served in the Marines from 1983 to 1987 — took satellite courses at Central Texas College. He later attended technical school in Rochester and Austin.

Overseeing students in his hometown holds a special place in Herman’s heart.

“That’s the drive in it, is that you are from Albert Lea,” he said. “You want to see the Albert Lea kids be successful, because this is your hometown, you have roots here. You want your district to be successful, you want the families to be successful, you want the city of Albert Lea to be successful, because I have been here all of my life. That’s huge for me.”

Herman became an Albert Lea officer in 1996, and he has been a school resource officer for at least 17 years. He was selected for the position after taking a written test and undergoing interviews. The hiring process makes it clear that Herman was interested in helping Albert Lea youth.

“Working with students and kids in general, you can make a positive impact on them,” he said. “It’s just another way of helping. I think most people who get into law enforcement want to help people, and this is a great opportunity to be able to be a positive role model for the young people.”

Though 17 years may seem like a long time, Herman does not view it as such.

“There’s something different every day here,” he said. “It’s kind of like being on patrol, except you are dealing with students.”

His wife, Laurie, is a teacher in Austin. They have two children, Zachary and Jessica, who both graduated from Albert Lea High School.

Herman enjoys seeing graduated students keep in touch with him.

“That’s kind of cool to see that,” he said.

Herman said he hopes each student who graduates realizes that he or she fulfilled his or her mission.

“And that they knew if they had a problem, they could come and talk to me, and I would try to help them, if I could,” he said. “And I was there to keep them safe.”

Security issues have evolved during Herman’s tenure. As social media has grown, cyberbullying has become an ever-present reminder of the dangers it can present.

“Everyone can be tough behind the keyboards,” Herman said. “It’s just when you see them face to face, all of a sudden it makes for a reality check.”

A difficult part of Herman’s position is clarifying the limitations of his job duty and requests from students and staff.

“It’s a fine line of making sure you are doing your job, but yet not crossing that line where you are impeding someone’s civil rights,” he said.

Herman’s favorite part of the job is helping students, which can be life-changing.

“You see that they made that change in their life, and you get to see that student every day,” he said. “And you just gotta keep tabs on that person. Not necessarily what I’ve done, but just maybe them talking every once in awhile. Especially kids who have threatened suicide, and stuff like that. If you talk to them, and you get them the help, and you see that are still moving forward, and they are still going on in life. That makes it, you know, be like, ‘hey, I made a difference.’ And it makes you feel that this was a good thing.”

By the numbers

1983 – Year Herman graduated from Albert Lea High School

3,300 – Students Herman oversees in the Albert Lea school district

5 – Years Herman was an active-duty Marine

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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