Superintendent Julie Kraemer has over 20 years of experience as an educator. Now, she adds another title to her resume: Police Officer. Kraemer was recently sworn in as a police officer after undergoing nine months of training, a long task she undertook to be able to carry a firearm with her to protect her students in the event of an emergency, according to this story from CBSnews. A school shooting about an hour away from her district in Hutsonville, Illinois prompted the concerned administrator to take further steps to protect her student body. At that point Kraemer had a concealed carry permit, but those rights stopped at the edge of the campus. Now the Huntsville, Illinois educator doesn’t step foot on school grounds without a firearm, the story says. “If somebody comes in to try to hurt my kids, we have something other than a stapler to throw at them. We’re no longer a soft target. We have some options,” says Kraemer in this story from Time.com, who graduated from the police training program on Sept. 22. “I’m just going to be a superintendent that happens to also be a police officer.” The added training bolstered Kraemer’s confidence that she could deal with a highly stressful situation if one were to arise. The veteran educator says in the story that she felt the additional training was necessary to make her comfortable under incredibly trying circumstances.
She felt it was necessary to have an armed presence at the school, which hosts 320 students on one campus located in a rural area, with the nearest police station some 15 miles away. As we all know, in an emergency, seconds count.
Kraemer pointed out the “No Firearms” sign only stops law-abiding citizens and not those that wish to do harm.
The school did not have the budget to hire a full-time school resource officer, Kraemer said in the Time story, so she decided to pursue the police training after a student in nearby Mattoon, Illinois brought a gun into his high school, pulled it out in the cafeteria, and shot one student before he was disarmed by a teacher.
“I think sometimes we sit back and think it’ll never happen here, it’ll never happen to us, it’s states away,” says Kraemer, 51, in the story. “But that was really close to home.”
As the old adage goes, “It’s better to have one and not need it.” Kraemer says in the CBS story that she hopes that she never has a reason to call upon her training as a law enforcement officer, but she knows that inaction in a time of need will only lead to more casualties.
Response from the students and community has been overwhelmingly positive, according to the story. Kraemer has received a number of hand-written letters and emails from current and former students, as well as townsfolk, thanking her for taking the extra steps to ensure the safety of the students and faculty in her school.
“If you work in education — I don’t care whether you’re a secretary, a bus driver, a superintendent, a teacher, or a principal — they’re your kids. I have 324 kids that come in every day that are my kids, and it matters what happens,” Kraemer says in the story. “I hope this place goes another 20, 40, 60 years without it ever happening, but it pays to be prepared.”