Whitni Peña and Angela Shoultz, school resource officers (SROs) with the Muscatine Police Department (MPD) and Muscatine Community School District (MCSD), both got into their line of work to help kids. Now, the pair has teamed up to ensure that all of the students in their community stay safe and know they have caring adults looking out for them.
Peña originally wanted to become a teacher, but later decided becoming a police officer suited her better. However, she knew she still wanted to work with children. “I always thought that if I could do something in law enforcement with schools it would be the ideal job,” she recalls. After nearly eleven years on the job (with a few breaks to raise her two children and three stepchildren) Peña still feels serving as an SRO provides a fulfilling career.
Shoultz became an SRO this year after four years with the MPD. A desire to use what she learned from her own three kids led her to the job. She explained she thought, “being a school resource officer would help me help other kids deal with those same issues,” her children had experienced, such as bullying.
For both, serving as SROs has allowed them to positively impact the lives of students throughout Muscatine. Peña elaborated, “I feel like we do a lot of counseling, interventions, and mediating. We try to be very proactive.” Though part of the job involves responding to safety threats, both officers emphasize that the majority of what they do involves helping students overcome challenges to prevent problems.
Peña and Shoultz value the connections they foster with students and consider it the most fulfilling part of their job. Shoultz shared that she most appreciates, “developing relationships with the children.”
At the heart of it, both Peña and Shoultz love giving back to their community. Fruitland born and raised, Shoultz loves helping those near where she grew up and staying connected with those she cares about. “My family and my friends are here . . . [and] I love the people I work with; it’s like having a whole other family,” she said.
A Quad Cities native who moved to Muscatine thirteen years ago, Peña has truly become a part of the city and embraced its close-knit feel. “I enjoy the small-town feel. I enjoy that I live five blocks from my work and five minutes away from my kids’ schools.”
For both Peña and Shoultz, working as SROs in Muscatine allows them to fulfill their dreams of helping kids navigate the world and reach their full potential. In the process, they foster many connections and help make our schools safer places to learn and grow.