Where the Music Meets the Mission

by | Apr 2024

AS YOU step out of your car, the atmosphere at Clark Memorial Elementary School seems to beam with positivity. You take a deep breath as you stand outside the school, absorbing the electrifying energy surrounding you. The man by the welcoming sign continues to greet everyone with zeal, setting the tone for what lies beyond. The sense of community is evident, and the joy emanating from the man is infectious. With a friendly smile, he directs you toward the entrance, inviting you to witness the unique environment inside. 

This is a place where Arthur Barad, a veteran and school resource officer, dedicates himself to safeguarding and uplifting the children of Clark Memorial. His approach to community policing is nothing short of refreshing. 

Every morning, as the doors swing open, he blasts some lively tunes that thrum through the school grounds. With a vintage booming speaker, Barad ensures the day starts on a high note. He greets each student with hugs, high fives, and “I missed yous,” turning grumpy faces into smiles and transforming the morning routine into an inspiring and uplifting experience.

Building Community Through Enthusiasm

This enthusiasm earned him the affectionate nickname “dancing deputy” during his time as a deputy in Moore County years ago. 

As the upbeat music played, Barad bobbed his head to the beat. His energy was infectious, creating waves of bliss that washed over students and even car passengers who drove by, converting the school entrance into an island of joy. 

As a student resource officer, Barad embraces the concept of community policing. His mission is to establish trust and build connections within his community. 

“I’m here to protect the kids, and then everything else is just an added blessing.” 

A retired military veteran with nearly 23 years in the Air Force, Barad brings a unique perspective to his role as a student resource officer. His own experiences in war-torn regions such as Afghanistan, where he witnessed the lack of academic resources and safety for children, fuel his commitment to providing a fortress of security for the young students at Clark Memorial Elementary School to grow academically, mentally, and socially.

Sharing History and Embracing Diversity

Barad takes pride in sharing his tribal Filipino heritage during events like Asian Pacific Heritage Month. He brings out tribal clothes from his childhood, offering a glimpse into a culture that survived the conquest of the Philippines for 333 years, showing them the beauty in unity and inclusivity. 

“I could sit in a room with almost 30 kids from all different backgrounds, and we can enjoy ourselves and learn something new together,” he shared. 

“I try to show by example that if you just get to know the person, then you won’t put everyone in a category, whether it’s by their job, race, or religion.” 

Through engaging activities, like a thought-provoking exercise with fifth graders, he encourages them to recognize the diversity within their own community. By stepping forward based on their dreams and aspirations rather than societal norms, Barad nudges the children toward resisting negative peer pressure and embracing their individuality. He carefully guides students seeking help with responsible behavior. 

“I try to use their experiences as an example,” he said. 

The father of six facilitates open discussions with the students, helping them explore how their choices affect others and the world around them. 

With Barad’s mentorship, friendship, and inspiration, students learn personal responsibility and critical thinking, empowering them to make informed decisions.

Building Trust Among Students

Understanding the complex emotions some children may harbor due to his background as a law enforcement officer, Barad openly discusses the challenges they face. He recalled a specific incident regarding a young girl.

“She’s experienced so much. Her experience with the police comes from them arriving at her house. Her grandmother explained to me that there’s still court stuff that she’s involved in,” he began. 

“I’ve never dealt with the stuff that kids deal with today. I never had access to bad things like these kids do in elementary school. They have so much access to bad things because they have phones and social media.” 

By strengthening connections, treating everyone equally, and being a visible and approachable presence, he hopes to instill a sense of trust between the person behind the badge and the students he interacts with daily.

Planting Seeds for a Brighter Future

Barad envisions building bridges, breaking down barriers, and planting seeds of positivity that will hopefully bloom into a future where every child feels safe, valued, and confident in their individuality. 

As he continues his mission at Clark Memorial Elementary School, Barad shows us the direct impact of simple acts of love and kindness on shaping students’ futures. GN 

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