Todd Schimmell is not your typical School Resource Officer (SRO). Not only can he handle tough situations he is also an author, an illustrator, and a great benefit to the school district’s school counseling program.
This Week's Storyteller
Todd Schimmell is a School Resource Deputy and Advanced School Resource Officer with the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office in Evansville, Indiana. He is also the author/illustrator of multiple books including ‘The Elephant Tooted’ and ‘Carl the Chameleon’ through his publishing firm Compassio Veraque, LLC. Todd is currently working on a series called Kids’ Compass which teaches life lessons with fun stories and, in his spare time, is the father of four wonderful children.
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Hi, everyone! Thank you so much for joining us for another week of this little podcast called Encouraging Words for School Counselors. I’m Matt Fleck from Inspire Success, the nonprofit that supports and inspires others who help students succeed.
Even though our podcast focuses on school counselors, we have heard from so many of you who have told us there are other individuals in your schools that really help support your school counseling goals like today’s guest, Todd Schimmell, who is the School Resource Officer (or SRO) with the Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office in southern Indiana. Todd has been with the sheriff’s office there for almost 20 years, but it was only the last couple of years that he found a new role that he absolutely loves.
I started doing this job as just a DARE officer – not just a DARE officer, because that’s still a really big job. Five years ago, myself and a couple other – the higher ranking deputies – realized we needed to start a school resource officer unit. There was kind of a need for that. So I was servicing the entire city with the DARE program, but in the county we had six schools on the west side that needed more attention. So that kind of developed into what we are now.
And what they are NOW, is a force of goodness that positively impacts the lives of students in those six schools in ways that even Todd didn’t expect.
I do my own program that’s like the DARE program, but I can get into a lot more classrooms this way. I’m a lot more involved. Those six schools, I’m a part of that community. And that’s been my goal for the last three or four years where I’ve really been full-time in these six schools. And I just want to be there for the kids and the staff as well. I tell them I’m here for teachable moments. I’m not here to get anyone in trouble. If a problem does occur and we need to talk about it. I want to tell them what they could do different and we’ll walk through it. But my goal is never to get anyone in trouble. I want to be a part of the community. I want to be there to help them. If a teacher has an issue and they need to get a hold of me any time, they all have my number so they can call me – same with parents, I give my number out. Issues outside of school, that’s what I’m here for. I’m here to be just kind of a liaison to whatever’s needed in that community.
Sometimes whatever is needed includes chasing down ‘runners’ like one young student last year who decided to get a little fresh air by bolting from school.
We have a self-contained classroom in one of my middle schools. And there is an amazing girl I’ve been trying to find my way in and try to have a good relationship with, and finally, last year – it took her actually eloping from school. She got out on the highway, scared us to death. I tracked her through a little wooded area, slipped and fell in the mud, went through thorn bushes, and finally got to her. And I told her, I was like, “Look what you just did to me. Look at all this. This is ridiculous.” And we both just started laughing and belly laughing. And since then I get hugs in the hallway. She looks forward to seeing me as much as I look forward to seeing her. She’s been through a lot and continues to go through a lot. So it’s one of those things where I’m just so fortunate that she’s actually let me in and let me be a part of her life. And you know, that’s one of several kids where – gosh, I love these kids, I love my schools, I love everything about what I do. I can’t see myself doing anything else.
But Todd is actually doing something else – something that adds even more value to his role as the schools’ resource officer. He has started writing and publishing his own children’s books.
This is something I always wanted to do. I love writing. I love drawing. I wasn’t so confident in my drawing and really worked on it the last year. It’s always been children’s picture books. That’s been my goal. So, um, I also loved to rhyme and I do poetry. So we started that way, with me not being confident in my drawing, just doing teen to adult poetry. I wanted to handle big topics. I love – empathy is my favorite word in the universe. My publishing company is called Compassio Veraque, which is Latin for empathy. So I want to let people know, let kids know, too – I’m upfront with them, too – I have anxiety. I have depression. I get treatment for these things. I want them to see me in the light of a police officer, but also realize that, you know, I need people, I need counseling, I need these types of things. I need the whole community to help lift me up, too, just like they will as well as they grow up.
And as you can tell, technically, Todd’s title is really more than just “school resource officer.”
I’m an author and illustrator. So I always tell my kids in my schools, the schools that I get a service, I have six schools that I service on the westside of Evansville, Vanderburgh County. I always say, I’m an author and I’m an officer. So I’m an offi-thor and there’s not too many like that. So I like to hold that title.
Todd, I believe you can be confident that no one is going to steal that title – and also pretty certain – that your schools will NEVER want to see you go.
I am a geeky nerd and I love every second about it. I want them to see that you can be more so when I show them my writing, I’ve had kids come up and say, well, I’ve started writing or I’m doing this, or I want you to see my work. That makes me feel so good! I don’t want them to come, like, you know, macho tough questions and things like that. Like, this is what I love. And I love that they love it, too.
Because of Todd’s love for his students and for children’s books, two fifth graders approached him last year asking for his help in writing and publishing their own book, which they did last spring. Todd continues to meet every week with one of those students as she prepares to publish her second book.
Thanks for ALL you do, Todd, and for making the work of school counselors that much better. You can find pictures of Todd and a link to his children’s books – Including The Book that Stunk and The Elephant that Tooted on our website inspiresuccess.org/podcast. And, of course, you’ll also find links to Todd’s books on Amazon, his Facebook page, and his other social media links.
Thank you for linking with us. Until next time, have a phenomenal week.