- Sponsorship -

A positive presence in the halls

At Byron Center High School, Ben Hawkins, informally called “hall monitor,” is filling the behavior interventionist role, which takes a bit of a different shape than at the elementary school.

The former police officer connects with students in a positive way. But he doesn’t hesitate to tell them to remove their hats and ear buds and put their phones away, or to check to make sure no one is vaping in the bathroom. He also makes sure exterior doors are secured and helps with maintenance when students are in class.

Main story: ‘If a child really needs someone, I am that person’

Former Grand Rapids Police Officer Ben Hawkins is now offering behavioral support at Byron Center High School

Since being hired in early April, he’s gotten to know students. “Just by saying ‘hi’ to a kid — when in high school they think they are forgotten in a sea of 1,200 students — you never know how much that might affect them throughout the day,” he said. “You never know what these students are dealing with at home or away from here or even in the hallways.”

Hawkins worked for 11 years for the Grand Rapids Police Department, serving as a community police officer. Bringing with him that perspective, he has spoken to Byron Center classes about issues like domestic violence.

But the students have made his job easy — he’s dealt with very few behavior incidents, he said.

“These kids are so respectful.. It’s been positive and welcoming, It’s like one big family and they welcomed me with open arms.”

Junior Izzy Moreno stopped Hawkins in the hall to tell him about her SAT score. “He’s the best. He’s just super personable to everyone,” she said. “He’s easy to talk to. He’s super understanding. He has our best interest in mind.”

Freshman Paige Deppe agreed. “Mr. Hawkins is special because he cares about students, but he’s also going to bust you if you’re doing something wrong.”

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


Fourth-grade hockey fan gets a magical hour on ice: ‘I made the shot!’

Raised as a Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins hockey fan, Jackson Solow lights up while skating on an ice rink wearing his favorite hockey jersey...

‘This time it is continued learning’

One school’s switch from in-person to virtual education last week was nearly seamless, especially when compared with the forced school closure in March...

Foundation grants $28,285 in fall funding requests

Virtual phys ed and art experiences, materials to improve classroom focus and books on social issues aimed at middle-schoolers are among the grants approved this fall...

Latest school closings expand on state-ordered high school mandate

More Kent County districts continue to announce temporary school building closures, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Class of 2021 has ‘test-optional’ choice when applying for college

Most schools in the state of Michigan have become SAT/ACT-optional for the Class of 2021 for admission purposes. There are, however, pros and cons for students...

Schools in nine districts announce closures as COVID cases spike

New temporary school building closures were announced by nine school districts in Kent ISD this week, as schools contend with a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases in Kent County and Michigan...

Musical prodigy, international performer, fourth-grader

When Cameron Renshaw was in kindergarten he kept asking his mom, Tina Renshaw, about the cello in her closet...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU