Stephanie Blythe: 25 years of keeping kids safe

Keeping Kids Safe – Stephanie Blythe, director of Sheffield-Sheffield Lake’s Safety Town program (center in grey shirt) is seen here with some of her wee charges and aides Bryana Wallace (far left) and Emily Hahn (far right). Blythe began working for Safety Town 25 years ago at the young age of 13, serving as an aide. (Press photo, Michele Murphy)

By Michele Murphy

Sheffield/Sheffield Lake – While some of her teaching colleagues may have slept in a bit the first week of summer vacation, Stephanie Blythe bound out of bed and went right back to school. The third-grade teacher at Sheffield-Sheffield Lake’s Brookside Intermediate School spent the week with 49 pre-kindergarten children enrolled in Safety Town. She loves every minute of it.

That’s impressive because Blythe has spent the last 25 summers at Safety Town, starting as an aide at the age of 13. “I knew at a very young age that I wanted to be a teacher,” she says. “So first chance I got, I was eager to do so.”

Blythe has been director of Sheffield-Sheffield Lake’s Safety Town since 2001. In that role, she is responsible for developing curriculum, coordinating participation from Sheffield Lake and Sheffield Village’s police and fire departments, hiring aides to work with young participants and, of course, recruiting, registering and supervising dozens of pre-kindergarten students who participate in the program.

During the past 25 years, she estimates she has shepherded more than 2,000 children through the one-week program which emphasizes an array of topics, tips and practice exercises meant to keep kids safe.

She says she is pleased with feedback she gets from parents who tell her children share what they have learned at home, including singing a number of rhyming songs emphasizing the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bike, what the colors on a stop signal signify or what to do if they see a gun.

As director, she developed and distributes a daily handout for parents to inform them about what children have learned each day. Each handout also includes a series of prompts family members can use to reinforce what children have learned.

One of the things Blythe particularly enjoys is reconnecting to Safety Town participants when they eventually become her third-grade students. Meanwhile, she is cognizant of the fact Safety Town is a pre-kindergarten student’s first experience in the school environment, so she is determined to make it both meaningful and fun.

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