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Adam Goodall provides more than security in Cleveland school: Community Heroes

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Adam Goodall doesn't just mind the door and the metal detector at William Cullen Bryant School.

He's all over the school.

Goodall, 40, the school's security officer, takes a very proactive approach to his job. Beyond keeping intruders out of the building and breaking up fights, Goodall wins praise from teachers and supervisors for helping set a friendly atmosphere and being someone who students trust with problems before they escalate.

"The kids gravitate toward him," said teacher Mike Walsh. "He really goes way beyond what he's supposed to do."

Science teacher David DeClemente was so impressed after joining the school in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood a year ago that he nominated Goodall as a community hero.

"He is a counselor and a child psychologist," said DeClemente. "He is an arbitrator and disciplinarian. He is a greeter and a mentor to all who know him. If he got paid for everything he does here, he'd make a quarter million dollars."

Goodall, who used to own a barber shop in the West Park neighborhood before joining the district in 2008, is constantly on the move, always talking with students. He knows most of them by name -– all 360 of them from kindergarten through eighth grade -- trading high-fives and fist bumps with them as he makes his rounds.
As a fifth-grade class returns from a field trip to the zoo, half of them slap his hand or say hello as they pass him. Even visiting parents give him enthusiastic high-fives.

When there's a dispute between students, or a student acts up in class, the calm and soft-spoken Goodall is often a teacher's first backup, an intermediary before involving the principal. He's also someone students go to when someone's bothering them, when they think a teacher is being too harsh on them or even if a classmate is teasing them online.

"I need to talk to you," a girl told him recently as she stopped Goodall in the hallway. After they talk, he promises to speak to the other student with whom she's having a problem.

But he also gave the girl her own caution: "I don't want you instigating. I don't want you adding fuel to the fire."

"During the day, I can see the kids going through their problems and having their differences," Goodall said. "I try to help them through the day. I try to keep the school on an even keel, so we keep the trouble down."

Goodall became a security officer with the district in 2008 in a wave of hiring that followed the 2007 shootings at SuccessTech High School. Lester Fultz, head of security for the district, said Goodall's ability to talk with students and solve problems before they become major is something the district wanted in schools, both to improve the daily atmosphere and to avoid future violence.

Building a rapport with students has been important to Goodall, a 1990 graduate of West Technical High School. He ran a mentoring program for boys with another teacher for a few years and he coaches a basketball team of boys from the school that plays in a city league at the Estabrook recreation center – unpaid and in addition to his job.

Goodall rarely yells at students, even when telling them to tuck in their shirts or get back in class. He says yelling only turns kids away and his calmness is appreciated by teachers and by his boss, Fultz.

Though William Cullen Bryant's academic success – it's rated Effective by the state – and the school's controlled atmosphere can be traced to the principal, teachers and parents, Fultz credits his officer as well.

"A lot of that is officer Goodall," he said.

With news researcher Jo Ellen Corrigan.