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School Resource Officer Stephanie Mirante teaching a life skills class with Drury High students. Mirante is this month's Community Hero.
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Mirante with the students after a visit to police headquarters.

Community Hero of the Month: Officer Stephanie Mirante

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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Stephanie Mirante has been with the North Adams Police Department since 2017.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — School Resource Officer Stephanie Mirante has been selected for the March Community Hero of the Month. 
The Community Hero of the Month series runs for the next eight months in partnership with Haddad Auto. Nominated community members and organizations have gone above and beyond to make a positive impact on their community. 
Mirante began her career in 2014 as an intern at the Williamstown Police Department. At the same time, she was completing her senior year at Springfield College, where she studied criminal justice.
Following that, she went to the Police Reserve Academy and started working full time for the North Adams Police Department in 2017. She is a detective and school resource officer for the department. 
Mirante is described by her students and peers as selfless, kind, fun and "obviously a hero." 
"She is a really great person and we're really glad to have her in our community," Drury High School junior Kylie Rose Palumbo said. 
Mirante was awarded a Neighborly from the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition for her work with Drury's Closet and the donation of packed backpacks to local students starting school and, along with several other officers, received a citation from Gov. Charlie Baker for her efforts in the community. 
Mirante, who grew up in North Adams, is involved with everything both inside and outside the school, Detective Sgt. Brad Vivori said. 
"She cares deeply about the community. She takes time out of her personal life to help students, she takes time out of her personal lives to help guys here at the [police department.] She's selfless," Vivori said. 
Mirante spends most of her time working as a school resource officer but is on call as a detective a week out of the month and will take calls every now and then. 
"I like helping people. I know that sounds cliche, but doing the community events, getting other officers in our department involved with the community, building relationships with the kids and the youth in our community a lot of it's rewarding," Mirante said. 
"Some aren't the best situations but I try to just think about the rewarding ones that we have."
There is a negative image of police but, day by day, Mirante is working to change that perception into a positive one, especially for this area. 
"That's all that I can really change and I feel like we're changing for the better. Just keep trying with the different events we do and the different involvement we have in a community," she said. 
In this job talking and making good relationships with young people is critical, Mirante said. 
"I've learned honestly, the main thing is to just treat people the way you want to be treated," she said. 
Officers need to acknowledge the fact that not everyone has the same background, she continued, and that people might be having a bad day because they are going through something.
"I do try to be a positive influence for the kids. Be able to have a conversation with them and try to understand where they're coming from and formulate a solution with them. I do try to involve everybody as a whole as much as possible and to come together as a community," Mirante said. 
During her time at school, Mirante does not wear a uniform and actively participates in various activities with the students. She feels her involvement demonstrates that she is more than just a police officer to the students and can engage with them in ways beyond the perception of what a police officer does. 
"I think that they look at me more as a person than as a police officer in uniform," Mirante said. 
"She's always had a way of bringing the community together. She's been at the school for a couple of years now and first of all, she's a really great person and she's done a lot for us at the school and everybody. She puts a lot of activities together for us. She keeps us safe," said Palumbo.
She also sometimes brings her fellow officers into the school and involves them in community engagement opportunities with students. This helps students build a positive perception of the officers, Mirante said, sot they become more comfortable when interacting with them in the community during difficult times in their life. 
"She's someone that we can go talk to, and she understands us, but also at the same time she helps us understand other people," Palumbo said. 
The department has already seen the results of this when dealing with students or someone who was a student in the last couple of years. 
"I think just being a familiar face is like a huge positive on our end. Obviously, we want as a patrolman, you want the situation to just work its way out within the call and I think that being able to have a conversation as a kid with someone who you recognize, helps out a lot," Mirante said. 
"It's less intimidating than talking to someone in uniform. Having knowledge of that person, I think, eases their stress level and situation also."
When Mirante said safety was her No. 1 priority when she was first assigned to the schools, so she helped implement a number of drills and initiatives. 
She co-chairs the Strong Communities Working Group alongside school housing coordinator Stacy Parsons. 
The group was developed after the city was approved for the four-year Up Street Violence Prevention Strong Communities grant for $629,000 from the state Executive Officer of Health and Human Services. 
The grant funds a life skills class that teaches kids such skills such as sewing, swimming, cooking, bleed, fire safety and domestic violence training, first aid, and more.
"The fact that she has taken the time and the energy to put a course of this nature together free for young adults, for students, to teach them so many valuable skills that, quite frankly, they probably wouldn't have the opportunity to be taught in a regular education setting sets her apart in terms of a community leader in all different manners," Civics and project-based learning "game of life" teacher Patrick Boulger said. 
"Her organization, her leadership, her passion to make sure that these students are given great opportunities to learn so many things that are going to be beneficial to them is absolutely phenomenal and I applaud her efforts."  
These remarks were echoed by Drury High School's nurse Lee Girard, who added that it is evident Mirante cares a lot about the kids and the community. 
"She goes above and beyond, always asking opinions and throwing around ideas to improve things, try new things. She's wicked passionate. I can't say enough good things about her and I'm really happy to be working with her," Girard said. 
"And I'm glad that she asked for my assistance to do first aid, CPR, things like that with the kids, because they don't also really have the opportunity."

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