Koch-ing up a new SRO


Helen Simmons, Writer

Kristine Koch is Bellows Free Academy’s first line of defense, but she isn’t as intense as she seems. Serving as the school’s new School Resource Officer (SRO), you’ll often see her walking the halls or greeting you on your way into first period. Koch does a lot around BFA. Ultimately, she’s here to protect the students and staff members, but she also goes on student welfare checks, works alongside administration, and she even teaches and shadows different classes. However, her favorite part is connecting with the students, so don’t be shy about saying hello whenever you see her. 

Being an SRO isn’t what the stereotypes make it out to be. Koch is almost never in her office, there’s always something she can be doing. She’s hoping that within the next school year she can visit and teach at more classes like We the People, Outdoor Technology, and even Public and Fire Safety at the Northwest Technical Center. 

Koch hasn’t always been running around hallways and greeting teenagers. She has been part of the St. Albans Police Department for three years now, and patrols after school hours. BFA’s SRO has also been a part of the Air Force for ten years and has been deployed twice. Even today she meets with the Vermont Air National Guard for two weeks out of the year, and one weekend every month. 

The easy-going Vermont life is new for Koch. She grew up near Buffalo, NY where she was a high school soccer player and a good student. Her childhood dream was to be a professional soccer player. She attended many colleges such as Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, NC, Hilbert College in Hamburg, NY where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, and Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer, NC where she completed her master’s degree in Leadership. In 2017 she found her way to Vermont.

“The county I grew up in is bigger than the whole state of Vermont. Erie County has like 900,000 people, and the state of Vermont has like 600,000. I just like it up here better. I came here for family – my family’s from here and I don’t like New York. It’s a little expensive here, though,” Koch said.

Since then she’s made quite a life here. Vermont has great mountain biking trails, and that’s great for Koch! Our SRO started off with an athletic scholarship for mountain biking. She spends most of her time outside of her job racing mountain bikes. Koch has always had a love for the outdoors. She worked as a game warden all around North Carolina for five years before finding her place here in the Green Mountain State. 

“I’ve always wanted to help people. At one point I wanted to be in the Peace Corps, but I kinda got talked out of it because it’s not very safe. Being a police officer or being in the Air Force helps fulfill that need to help people. But being a game warden, there was still something missing, it didn’t fulfill that need help people as much. I just decided to try something different,” said Koch. 

New minds in our school bring new ideas, and that’s what Koch is working on. Over February break she is completing certifications for her black labrador retriever Murphy to become a part-time BFA therapy dog. He is three years old and extremely excited to meet everyone here. 

A strong school community only happens when everyone works together. Koch has been a part of many communities, and has a fresh view on BFA’s. She has a pretty good idea of what makes a strong school community. 

“Admin, SROs, students, trying to come up with ways either to help other students or help the school become better. . . Just everyone trying to make it better, coming together and listening to other people, and being respectful,” says Koch. 

The best part is, Koch believes that BFA has a great school community, and that everyone works together really well. She has hopes that the new principal will link that a little tighter. 

But, if there is one thing you should know about Koch, is that she is someone you could sit down and talk to. She’s an approachable person and has a lot to say. 

“Everyone has to think of the future and the choices they make in high school will affect their future, either in a positive or negative way,” Koch said. 

One quote that she really lives by, and reflects the way she has lived her life is from Admiral William H. McRaven, author of Making Your Bed: Little Things that Can Change Your Life . . . And Maybe the World.

“It is easy to blame your lot in life on some outside force, to stop trying because you believe fate is against you. It is easy to think that where you were raised, how your parents treated you, or what school you went to is all that determines your future. Nothing could be further from the truth. The common people and the great men and women are all defined by how they deal with life’s unfairness: Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela, Stephen Hawking, Malala Yousafzai, and—Moki Martin. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, you still end up as a sugar cookie. Don’t complain. Don’t blame it on your misfortune. Stand tall, look to the future, and drive on!”