Respect is the centerpiece of Barry Baldwin's life

Barry Baldwin, whose official title at Downey High School is campus aide-security, must be doing something right.Last month, he was named DHS employee of the month. For the fourth time. In the DHS milieu, a campus of 4,000 students, the faculty members and the student body represented by ASB take turns in choosing the honoree. As it happened, the first time Baldwin was selected for the honor, it came courtesy of the faculty, the second time he was chosen by the students, and the third time again by the faculty. A clear indication of his popularity especially among the students occurred when the results of a student survey taken prior to the actual voting for September, as to who they thought should be named employee of the month, showed Baldwin receiving 803 votes, while the next-highest vote-getter received a mere 136 votes. Baldwin, the second to the youngest of seven siblings, sees his primary function as a member of the 5-man security detail at DHS as "making my presence known to the students, to observe, and to first report anything unusual or suspicious to my supervisor before I go into action on my own." It is an MO that has served him well. He makes it a point to stand by the entrance gate when the students come streaming in to their classes in the early morning, and when they leave the campus in the afternoon. He connects with the students and instructional staff in other ways. He makes sure he looks good in his security uniform, matching, say, the color on his cap with the emblems on his jacket. "I like to look professional," he says, "because I represent them, I represent the school. I want to lead by example." Confident and comfortable with himself, Baldwin has a "Hi!" to everybody. "I treat everyone with respect," he says, "whether faculty or staff or student. I accept them for what they are, as individuals. I'm not here to judge anybody. And I expect the same treatment." The word 'respect' is a big part of his vocabulary. Born on Sept. 2, 1976 in Harbor General Hospital in Torrance, Baldwin grew up in a tough section of Long Beach and watched his older siblings struggle daily with drugs and alcohol. This was during a time when drive-bys were frequent. To their credit, he says, they eventually overcame their problems. His father drank as well, but one day he said "No more!" and just quit. "I respected him enormously for that," Baldwin says. "From their experiences and struggles I learned how to stay away from drugs and drink" His innate drive he attributes to his mother, who also resides in Long Beach to this day. Baldwin says it was she who during the tough times held the family together: "She was a determined and strong-willed woman, she got things done, and wouldn't give up until she finished a task she set out to do." After finishing high school at Lakewood High in 1994, Baldwin's employments (mostly part-time) included coaching freshman and JV basketball; a stint with the city of Long Beach: as a staff lead in the parks and recreation department, where he served in the youth sports program, coaching flag football, basketball, indoor soccer, T-ball, etc., and was also involved in the after-school program; and as a day camp director in the summer, where he also coached softball. He has also since 1996 been a Special Olympics volunteer, helping coach basketball and volleyball for the Long Beach Region. Even today he spends summers at Camp Oaks in Big Bear, where for a week towards the end of June he is counselor to adults with disabilities. Actually, he says, his first job was with the city of Long Beach's Health Department when he was 16 years old, as a peer health counselor. His job was to go around the different sites to present skits/plays, and otherwise disseminate information to students and public alike about the dangers of such health menaces as STD, etc. He joined DHS in 2007. He says, "Downey High is a pretty good school, with a nice student body. The students are well-behaved and very respectful towards authority figures. It's pretty peaceful." Baldwin is currently working on his A.A. degree in criminal justice at the University of Phoenix. He says his career goal is to be a probation officer and/or otherwise work in law enforcement. "I pretty much want to stay connected with the youth, be a mentor to them," he says. DHS principal Tom Houts, who hired him, has a high opinion of him: "He is by far the best campus aide I have had the pleasure to work with. He is always professional and represents DHS in a positive manner. He knows and respects the students and expects them to behave-and they do. He will not hesitate to chase a student down or pat a student on the back." Houts adds: "He is one of the main reasons why Downey High School is able to handle 4,000 students with hardly any major issues."

********** Published: October 28, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 28