First of all, the Timber Point monitors don't wear the red arm bands Bobby wore. Anonymity is key when keeping little eyes and ears open for bad behavior.
And they know their positions as Safe School Ambassadors - it's an honor and privilege.
They also know surveillance is a tool, not a power trip.
Hand-picked by their teachers, 30 fourth and fifth graders were given a set of skills last month to help them monitor the safety of students on campus, prevent graffiti and eliminate foul language. "Our school didn't really have an epiphany moment as to why we started the program, nothing that really sparked a huge need for it," said Principal Brian Burnight. "But we've seen a culture of positive actions since implementing the program. We are always looking for ways to make our school go from good to great and student safety a priority."
Burnight first heard about the program, sponsored by Community Matters, some years back when he worked in the Danville school system. Community Matters is a nonprofit organization dedicated to youth development since 1990.
His teachers at Timber Point love the program. "The philosophy behind it is getting kids to make good choices," said first grade teacher Jessi Lindell. "Students know more of what's going on than we ever will. This is what makes it a great design."
Third grade teacher and safety program advisor Stacy Lynn, who helped Burnight implement the program last April, said the ambassadors walk away with excellent coping skills. "This program trains the kids how to react and how to get involved with helping others," said Lynn.
Ambassadors and teachers study five types of cruelty found on most elementary school campuses: exclusions, put downs, physical cruelty, acts against campus (such as vandalism and graffiti) and bullying. "They learn how to take five types of action," said Lynn.
One action is called reasoning, in which the ambassador will say things to make the bully think. Another action is called balancing or putting (down) a put down. "For example," said Lynn, "let's say someone says to a target (victim), 'You stink at soccer!' The ambassador would come back with, 'You're not bad at soccer. I saw you make two goals last week.'
"The thing about this program is that it puts the power in the kid's hands," Lynn added, "and it gives them the confidence to go out and make a difference at Timber Point."
With roughly 600 students on campus, Burnight said 95 percent of student conflicts occur during lunch hour and breaks, when kids have less structured time and more freedom. Significant infractions include inappropriate language or shoving.
"We don't have problems with drugs, alcohol or weapons," said Burnight. "And kids tell on each other in a big hurry. We had one incident with a child bringing a pocket knife to school two years ago."
Training continues throughout the school year through bi-monthly Family Meetings in which one teacher meets with five to six ambassadors.
Teachers give up their prep time to host the meetings.
"I want to thank the teachers for getting involved in doing this," said Burnight. "They're donating a lot of their time and it's not like there's a lot of money at the end of the rainbow to do this."