Grandpa’s last hurray: it’s time to hang up the safety vest | New

Grandpa Jerry Stradinger has volunteered to lead traffic and greet students at Island Lake Elementary School in Shoreview almost every morning for the past 12 years. The retired Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office Assistant runs around 250 vehicles each morning and makes sure students get to school safely.

In addition to directing traffic, Grandpa Jerry has built relationships with students and families over the years, principal Todd Durand said. “Its impact on individuals and families is enormous,” said Durand. “You can always count on him.

Grandpa Jerry is a volunteer mentor, noted Noelle Nelson, the school’s administrative assistant. “I think it’s wonderful that they see someone in the community come and volunteer,” she said. “It starts everyone’s day off on the right foot. “

“What a great example he sets for community service,” added Durand.

“He loves what he does,” noted Abhi Sachdev, school resources manager at the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, which patrols three schools in the area.

“He does it with his heart. “

Grandpa Jerry said he was inspired by volunteering by Bob Fletcher, who was Ramsey County Sheriff when he worked for the office. When he noticed that his grandchildren’s school had a dangerous drop-off area, he volunteered to direct traffic. He also suggested that the bus disembarkation be moved to the back of the school, which was the case. The move caused the parent drop-off area in front of the school to go from hectic to safe, Durand said.

What Grandpa Jerry did in partnership with the school has become popular across the country over the past decade – police officers on leave waving in front of schools.

Today, officers provide more than road safety, he noted. He introduced himself as a willful decoy to all potential school shooters wearing his shiny “sheriff” vest.

“If someone comes to shoot, the first thing they’ll shoot is me,” he said. “God willing, nothing will ever happen here, but you never know. “

Having faced tragedy before during his days on patrol, this is what inspires Grandpa Jerry to sacrifice himself for the children. In the 70s, as a new MP, he got a call about a fatal accident – it was his own parents. But that didn’t stop him from serving in the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office for 26 years.

While trying to protect the public, he faced many fierce humans – he was shot, stabbed, had a hole in his stomach, and a tooth was broken. He has worn cowboy boots his entire life.

Grandpa Jerry is retiring from his volunteer position now that his last grandchild is entering Chippewa Middle School next year. He said the college asked him to direct traffic there, but it was time to hang up his safety vest.

Island Lake Elementary School staff threw a party for Grandpa Jerry on June 1 and students and parents dropped off cards and gifts as he led traffic.

Durand said the school is hopeful that a different kind of grandfather will step up Grandpa Jerry’s role in the school.

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