HUTSONVILLE, Ill. (WTHI) - Hutsonville is home of the tigers.
"It's a small, rural school district," said Superintendent Julie Kraemer, "It's kind of far away from any help that could arrive."
That statement makes tiger territory a little more vulnerable to attack, or a soft target.
"If somebody would come in, you know, I have a baseball bat behind my door," she said, "but that's not a lot."
That's why Kraemer is stepping in to a new role.
After attending a conference in Chicago, Kraemer said she noticed that one of the presenters had the title of both superintendent and school resource officer.
"The bottom line was how his school district came and went from a soft target to not being because he also is a resource officer," she said, "I pulled him off to the side and kind of talked to him about it."
Since January, Kraemer has been training through the part-time police academy. She attends classes almost every Saturday where she learns a variety of techniques like self-defense and putting on handcuffs. Kraemer also completes book and online course work as well as 40 hours of firearms training.
She'll graduate from the academy in September.
"When I graduate, I could be a police officer if I wanted to," she said, "In this instance, the Hutsonville Village hired me as a part-time police officer so the school board can then hire me as a resource officer."
In light of recent mass shootings, like Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, Kraemer says her new role comes during a scary time in society.
"I'll admit I talked to the board, probably just a few weeks ago when we met, and I said I'll be honest with you that first Saturday I was looking and going through everything we'd have to do, and I immediately knew this was going to be a lot more time than what I orginally had expected and I'm thinking what am I doing," she said, "and then ironically, that next week was when Italy, Texas happened, then the place in Kentucky happened, just a few weeks after that was Parkland, Florida. It's like ok, that's why, that is why."
Kraemer will be adding resource officer to her current job title as superintendent. While the workload is increasing, she says she's no stranger to balancing different jobs.
"Part of it is for 10 years I worked at the prison over in Terre Haute, and there I was a system administrator, but I was a federal law enforcement officer first," she said, "So for me, it's not my first time having that dual role, so I think that helps a little bit. Honestly, when it comes down to it I'm more comfortable."
Hutsonville Schools have practiced, and like other school districts throughout the country, revisited their safety measures.
"We've taken a lot of precautions for safeties over the years," she said, "Whether it's the locks on the doors in order to get in, using the NaviGate Prepare and Respond app to make sure that we can communicate with each other if something does happen, having the police in here on multiple occassions so they're familiar with the building in case something happens, the teachers have just went through active shooter training in February, again, this is their third or fourth time they've been through it."
While the district has taken their precautions and continue to monitor safety protocols, Kraemer says it's nice to have an extra addition to ensure the safety of the school, students and faculty with her role.
"I have biological kids, but I also have 340 kids, every day, that come through my school and they're my kids," Kraemer said, "By golly I'm going to make sure that absolutely nobody is going to walk into this school and hurt my kids."
"Bottom line is I hope we never have to have it," she said, "but if something would happen here, we have a way to protect our kids. We don't have to wait the 20 minutes or 15 minutes for the outside people to come from Robinson. We will have something here and we will be able to protect our kids, and that really is the bottom line of what this is about."
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