This year, Burrell School District has a new resource officer on campus — patrolman Robert Acquaviva from the Lower Burrell Police Department.
Acquaviva is filling the role vacated by John Marhefka, who left last year to become the chief of police for Lower Burrell.
“This new job means a great deal to me personally,” said Acquaviva. “I firmly believe that forging positive relationships with today’s youth is a crucial endeavor, and I have the unique benefit of being able to be present in every school in the Burrell School District.”
As part of his role, Acquaviva takes on many hats. He acts as a law enforcement officer to keep the school safe, a law enforcement educator to help students learn, and an informal mentor to provide comfort and support.
In addition to his more than five years of experience with the Lower Burrell Police Department, he took the school resource officer, D.A.R.E, and negotiations training to prepare him for these responsibilities.
So far, Acquaviva’s favorite part of the job has been interacting with kids at all grade levels. He makes it a point to visit every school building daily so he can forge relationships with as many students as possible and maximize his positive impact.
“Students have commented that ‘he is everywhere!’” said Dr. John C. Boylan, Burrell High School principal.
Acquaviva knows that since this year has so many unique challenges, it’s more important than ever for him to be someone the students can rely on.
“It has been rewarding to know that I can bring some small level of comfort to students during this difficult time,” Acquaviva said. “Something as simple as a conversation about a student’s weekend or their new favorite video game helps to build relationships, something that as the school year goes on, I hope to continue fostering and improving upon.”
According to Dr. Boylan, the administrative team at Burrell is excited to have Acquaviva on board.
“Rob is a genuine and engaging professional who is passionate about connecting with students,” said Dr. Boylan. “He is a visible presence for our students and staff members at a time when safety protocols are being challenged by the nationwide pandemic.”
Acquaviva is both humbled and excited to be on board at Burrell and looks forward to what the rest of the year brings.
“Each day brings a new challenge and has to be approached differently, which is something that I enjoy about the position,” Acquaviva said.