Your friendly neighborhood security guard: Tommy


Tommy is “the kind of guy who isn’t just there to protect you as a security guard, but there to help you when you need it.”

Many students are the reciprocal of high fives, fist bumps, or warm greetings from Tommy, a security guard at Arvada West. However, there is much more to him than his positive and friendly demeanor.


Tommy is in his eleventh year in security, and his first at Arvada West. However, especially with his experience in his current field, it can come as a surprise that Tommy didn’t think he would be where he is now. “Security was not the path I had in mind; I was more interested in doing physical education” he states. He adds “I was an interpreter for the hearing impaired when I first started with the district, but I couldn’t get my certification, so I was a para (paraprofessional) for a couple years and para led me into security.”

Despite not envisioning this job, Tommy is very motivated, making it one of his main priorities to build positive relationships. This is evident when you talk to students like Valerie Lyon, a freshman, who shares that “He (Tommy) is one of the best people you will meet, and if you haven’t formed a bond with him, what are you waiting for?”

However, Tommy started off small, and built up relationships over time. “The way I started off, my first security job was at Brady (Brady High School), and really just saying hi and being friendly to the students, that’s all they wanted, someone to acknowledge them, and that’s how it started” he shares. He continues to build off this successful strategy today.

This isn’t to say that public education doesn’t come with its fair share of struggles. Especially with Covid, as well as other tragedies that are sadly common in schools, Tommy has had to deal with a lot of adversity. However, he tries to focus on the students, and the impact problems have on them. “A lot of times it’s actually recognizing that someone’s not having a good day and we don’t always have the right answers and I just try to at least see how they’re doing” he states. He adds “We have a lot of resources, counselors and stuff that I can refer them (students) to, but yeah, there’s been a lot of adversity that I’ve witnessed and it’s hard on us but it’s also hard on the students too.”

Even with the struggles, Tommy tries to maintain a healthy work-life balance. “We try not to bring work home but depending on the situation we do bring it home. I don’t discuss a lot of things that happen at school with my family because some of it I would say is private or confidential, but I think if I leave my work at home (school) I’m better for it at home. However, according to Tommy, the opposite is true as well. “Let’s say I had a bad day at home, I don’t want to bring that to school, I want to leave that at home, so it works both ways” he shares.

In terms of personal enjoyment, Tommy points to one thing: Sports. He participates in anything and everything, including Ultimate Frisbee, Volleyball, Basketball, and most recently, Pickle-ball. However, he also uses athletics to connect with students. “I’ll go into the gym and I’ll play Volleyball and Basketball” he shares, all with the purpose of building relationships.

It’s not surprising that Tommy once again points to the connections he has with students as a highlight of his day, stating “The best part of my job is just building relationships with students, getting to know them a little bit, because it just helps me get to know them if they’re having a bad day.”

No job is perfect, and Tommy’s job is not an exception. He shares that “The bad part is some of the tragedy that comes along with working in a high school.” He adds “Unfortunately, tragedy is a part of it (his job) as well, so we just try to stay positive as much as we can.” He also endorses his fellow employees, sharing “We also have a great support staff, cause unfortunately I can only do so much as far as counseling, but if they’re not doing as good as I want them, I can take them into the counseling office and offer other support.”

With his experience in security, Tommy is able to offer advice to incoming freshmen. “What I would encourage them to do was just participate. Just do as much as you can because a lot of kids graduate and they’re like ‘oh man, I could’ve done this, I could’ve done that.’ Do it as a freshman, and just continue with it the next four years,” he shares.

He also has a message for outgoing seniors, stating “Just don’t have any regrets. Acknowledge all of the accomplishments you have, and then don’t have any regrets, know that you did everything you could as a senior, and then start a new chapter in your life.”

Tommy has one more suggestion for students, and that is to “Participate as much as you can. High school flies by anyway, but when you’re doing fun things at least you have something to take away from when you leave Arvada West.” These words of wisdom are yet another way he sets students up for success.

It is only fitting to end with a quote from Lyon, one of the many students that Tommy has an impact on. “He (Tommy) doesn’t just impact a kid’s safety, but also their hearts. And that is why he is such a special man and he will always be loved by Arvada West.”