BFA’s New School Safety Officers: Ward and Mazzaferro


School safety officers (from left) Dennis Ward and Michael Mazzaferro. Photo credit: Anna Bouchard

Anna Bouchard, Writer


Joining William Weston as school safety officers are Michael Mazzaferro and Dennis Ward, who The Mercury sat down with for an interview. 

Mazzaferro explained that the school safety officers may “ look like we’re just making sure everybody’s going to class, but that’s only one of the many things that we are doing.” Bellows Free Academy’s three safety officers are in charge of student and staff safety and security. This includes checking doors, vetting who comes in and out of the building and de-escalating stressful situations.

According to Ward, their job also extends beyond security. Ward said that making connections with the kids is one of their major responsibilities.

“I like to say good morning on a daily basis, then overtime adding to that conversation,” Ward said.

Both Ward and Mazzaferro have past experience that has helped them in their current role at BFA. Ward said he is a recently-retired police officer from the South Burlington Police Department. He also attested to working in the Youth Services Unit for four years. He said that his former position allowed him to spend time with students on a daily basis, so it was a natural transition to his current job.  

Mazzaferro said that he worked as a correctional officer for 16 years, part of that time as a sergeant at a maximum security facility. While a high school is quite different from a security facility, Mazzafera said that his past experience has taught him how to de-escalate stressful situations without using force, a skill that allows him to protect students and staff here at BFA.

Mazzaferro also said that he enjoys interacting with the students at BFA. At his previous job, he was interacting with people who made mistakes that resulted in their incarceration. But here, he said that he can have a “positive influence on [students], and maybe even persuade them from making poor decisions…There’s hope here.”

Ward told The Mercury that his overall experience at BFA has been positive.

“We’ve gotten positive feedback so far.  I think that people appreciate the work that we do here,” Ward said.

Mazzaferro agreed, saying that he “hope[s] to continue to support students and teachers while getting to know every single one of them.”