Students at the Stephan Decatur School, P.S. 35, smile when they see school safety officer Beverly Pittman. Some even call her their best friend.
For 20 years, Pittman, 51, who is Brooklyn-born and raised, has served as a school safety officer in hundreds of New York City public schools across the five boroughs. From elementary to high schools, she takes pride in protecting students while in their learning environments.
"I look forward to making sure the same way the students come in is the same way they leave," Pittman said.
In September, Pittman began working at P.S. 35 and has developed a great relationship and respect from the students.
"I think I have a really good report with the students. Students really gravitate towards me," she said. "They usually let me know if something's wrong."
So far Pittman describes working at P.S. 35 as a more down-to-earth and slower pace than other schools she's worked at.
"On a good day, it could even be boring because the students are so good. I don't have issues with cutting or many fights here," Pittman said.
However, Pittman recalled some scarier moments as a school safety officer in her past jobs. She once took a gun off of a high school student and witnessed a student being stabbed during school hours.
Also, during the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks she reported to duty, and remembers the air turning black as she ran into a building for safety when the buildings began to come down. She still gets tested every 18 months to ensure that there is nothing present in her blood from the debris.
Pittman said she hasn't been able to return to the area since.
"I don't want to go back because I don't want to remember that. I take my job very seriously. God spared my life, and I am here to talk about it. I think it's made me a stronger person," she said.
Pittman loves her job because she enjoys being around people. In order to give the students the best of her energy, she maintains these three principles on a daily basis.
"Everyday it's important that I have focus, strength, and patience."