Marie Lopez Hernandez doesn’t need a bright orange vest to be spotted on the Veritas Elementary playground.
Colorful in clothing and personality, you can find her watching over the school’s play structure or partaking in a quick game of hopscotch. Watching Marie, it is clear she personifies the playground culture full of loud, joyous children at play.
“Being a yard duty is important because when students are in the classroom, they’re working hard to focus on their learning,” shares Mrs. Lopez Hernandez. “But when they come outside, it’s important for them to have a space to run and play. It gives me joy to see students happy at recess.”
School Site Assistants (SSAs), commonly referred to by students as Yard Duties, play a significant role when it comes to school safety and student well-being. Each day SSAs perform multiple tasks including monitoring school grounds, performing crossing guard duties, and making sure students are playing safe at recess.
“It’s so important for schools to have appropriate and proper supervision. We want to make sure that when students are here, they are safe and have someone they can go to when they need assistance or help resolving a conflict,” states Dr. Cowan, Veritas Principal.
On top of their duties, students also see School Site Assistants as trusted allies on the playground. Like many, Marie takes this role seriously. With a background in social work, she wants to make sure students are being taken care of beyond the playground.
“I’m passionate about children knowing that they’re important,” stated Mrs. Lopez Hernandez. “To encourage them and give them self-esteem. We want parents to know that their child is safe.”
Marie mentioned that she is always recommending people to become a School Site Assistant—recently to someone in front of her in line at the grocery store!