Those who know Sedalia School District 200 Security/Attendance Officer Ashley Stark know she does not back away from a challenge.
Quick to smile and always willing to help, Stark was recently transferred to Smith-Cotton High School following her work for the district as a security officer at Whittier High School and as a back-up at Smith-Cotton Junior High.
She has a diverse background in emergency services. A graduate of Smith-Cotton High School, Stark initially received her EMT license from State Fair Community College. Thinking she wanted to pursue a career in the medical field, Stark joined the Navy in 2002 serving as an aviation mechanic on H60s. She also served on Air Crew Search and Rescue Teams.
“Towards the end of my Navy career, I was in the military police department,” Starke explained. “I came home in 2008 and received my criminal justice degree from SFCC while working in the Juvenile Detention Center.”
After completing her degree, Starke became a juvenile officer for Pettis County. She later worked for the Johnson County, Kansas, Sheriff’s Department.
“It was in this setting that I learned the skill sets of communication, interviewing, and counseling troubled youth,” Stark explained. “Accepting the position with the Sedalia 200 School District enabled me to incorporate my medical, police and juvenile training into one, while still helping the community.”
Her work is appreciated by both Sedalia 200 School Resource Officer Deputy John Cline and S-C Principal Wade Norton.
"Students and staff have responded positively to Ashley's assignment here at Smith-Cotton High School,” Cline said. “The Security/Attendance Officer position is a big job; bigger than most people realize.
“Ashley has jumped in with both feet, and her previous experience working in the juvenile justice system is very helpful in her new role,” he continued. “Having an armed security officer in our district buildings has been very helpful to me, because it frees me up to handle higher priority tasks."
Stark commented her top priority at the school is to “keep the students and staff safe at all costs.”
“The transition to Smith-Cotton High School has been smooth. I have been working with administration, custodians, secretaries, and teachers to learn the in’s and out’s of the school,” she continued. “The students have been very receptive to my presence, some of them knowing me from activities previously or from helping them in the past.”
Stark added she spends her time in the hallways, monitoring security cameras, and helping administration with any safety concerns or behavior issues, among many other tasks.
“I am willing to help wherever I am needed as we are all a team with the same common goal,” she noted. “I feel that the best part of my job is interacting with the children.
“I strive to guide them, support them, and listen to them regardless of the situation,” she continued. “I challenge myself to stay current on events, be physically capable, and keep up on training.”
Norton commented Stark has fit in well at the high school.
“We were so pleased that Ms. Stark showed interest in transitioning to Smith-Cotton,” Norton said. “We have had a possible working relationship with Ashley since she served at the Pettis County Juvenile Office. Ashley hasn’t wasted any time learning the flow of the building and ensuring the building continues to be safe.”
Her constant concern for doing her job well and her concern for others have been of benefit to Stark throughout her career.
“I strive to be and do my best, so the fact that I am the only female security officer in the district has no bearing on my performance,” Stark admitted. “I am the type of person when someone tells me I can’t do something, I will be more determined to do it.”