- Associated Press - Saturday, December 24, 2016

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - Recently, Nathan Tyler received a call from a Lincoln Elementary School parent whose car wouldn’t start. She wanted to get her child to school, but she had exhausted all other avenues to make that happen.

So Tyler, the new home/school liaison at Lincoln Elementary in Dubuque, came to pick the child up and brought him to school.

“(It’s) just the little things, and a lot of outside-the-box things,” Tyler said. “That’s my favorite saying since working up here, is we do a lot of the outside-the-box things that just get the job done.”

Tyler finds himself doing a lot of those “little things” these days - along with plenty of bigger things, as well.

The Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/2i38kk1 ) reports the home/school liaison position is new this year at Lincoln. It also is the first such position in Dubuque Community School District elementary schools - but it will not be for long, officials said.

Tyler’s goal is to enhance student education by helping remove barriers in the way of children’s learning, whether those are struggles for the student, a family, school relationships or a neighborhood.

“There’s the things that you have to get done, (and then) there’s the things that you want to get done,” said Lincoln Principal T.J. Potts. “And so, with this position, we’re able to start delving into the, ‘We’ve wanted to do this for a while, and now we can.’”

Before taking on his current position in Dubuque schools, Tyler spent 23 years as a police officer, with 19 of those years in Dubuque. For about 15 years, Tyler worked with young people in various forms, whether as a school resource officer, DARE officer or juvenile officer. He also spent one year as a violence prevention educator with the Riverview Center before joining the school district.

Tyler’s new job involves a little bit of everything, by his own reckoning, with an aim at supporting staff. That could mean working with children on behavioral issues, providing professional development and helping with safety and security, among other things.

He might find himself offering to bring a child to his or her parents to get the child’s medication, picking students up for school or rewarding two middle school students with snacks for walking home an elementary student. He also has been a resource to help with attendance and truancy issues, Potts said.

Tyler’s job includes both proactive and reactive approaches, Potts said. Tyler builds relationships with students and families who might not be as connected to school, and when families or students are in crisis, he will work with them until the school can develop a plan.

“He does a lot of things to allow everyone else to do their jobs,” Potts said. “A lot of times in education, things come up all throughout the day that create a situation where someone has to stop what they’re doing to deal with the situation, whatever it may be - kid or family or whatever - and really, this position helps everyone continue on with their day, so teaching and learning can still happen, no matter what situation comes up.”

Tyler’s position is the first of its kind in Dubuque Community School District elementary schools, and the district is in the process of adding similar positions at Audubon, Fulton and Prescott elementary schools, according to Nancy Bradley, the district’s director of elementary education. Those people can come from a variety of backgrounds with a goal of building connections among home, school and activities so children feel more grounded at school, she said.

She said she hopes to see those positions staffed, possibly by January.

District officials previously had been interested in creating such a position at those schools, and Tyler’s success at Lincoln has been a strong propellant for the district to move forward in adding the position elsewhere, Bradley said.

“We’re very excited about the position and the very positive impact it’s having on students at Lincoln,” she said.

Tyler’s background in law enforcement gave him the ability to diffuse tense situations and an appreciation for what school staff goes through, among other skills. He said his time working with the schools and seeing the passion that educators have helped pushed him toward seeking a career in the education field.

“I really enjoyed the dedication, and honestly, I found myself in awe of how teachers and staff at the elementary schools here in town look at these kids and see nothing but potential,” he said.

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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