Keeping track of campus: how teachers and staff monitor Joplin High School

JOPLIN, Mo. — 2,350 students, give or take a few, every day at Joplin High School.

It’s a big job to keep track of students. Keep them safe, and keep them out of trouble. How do officials balance all of it?

“It’s, you know, you would think that it’s huge,” said Steve Gilbreth, JHS Principal.

The 500,000 ft campus that’s home to Joplin High School and the 2,350 students enrolled there.

“I think we’re the third or fourth largest high school in the state,” added Gilbreth.

And while education is the main focus, keeping kids safe and on focus are also big challenges.

“There’s an area there that the principal’s we call it the Thunderdome; because it’s a place where kids gathered just to talk. They block kids from easily going to the gym or going to the third floor or going to Franklin tech,” said Gilbreth.

A focus for teachers and staff who patrol the halls to keep students moving.

One of the most basic ways to watch the student body, but there’s also plenty of high tech help.

“We have well over 400 cameras in this building. And we’ve updated those got those on a better format for the district for viewability both live viewability as well as being able to go back and document incidents,” said Dave Pettit, Joplin Schools Facilities Dir.

Tracked both live by JHS security but also available archived and remotely for school district leaders. Older tech also still plays a part.

“They may need things throughout the day, so they have walkie sewers. There’s a lot of there’s the ability to have communication anywhere in this building at any given second,” said Gilbreth.

Software also tracks the smoke alarms, back up generators, and can communicate campuswide if something critical happens, and even the school layout itself comes into play.

“Having that central corridor that that you can view and kind of get a feel for what’s going on in the building with that long corridor that then culminates typically right there at the commons area. Just outside the gym. And the cafeteria. That’s a good flow. And it gives us the accessibility to kind of maintain how we do things but also as we have to go to get out of this building the amount of exits that we have,” said Pettit.

It all adds up to a normal school day at Joplin High School.

“You just, you know, manage what you can and you know, but we do a good job of managing a big number of kids. And a big number of teachers. And a lot of comings and goings,” said Gilbreth.

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