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Lauri Winter

Lauri Winter has served as a campus safety officer for a decade.

"I try to get to know each child as much as I possibly can."

Campus Safety Officer Lauri Winter steers a red-and-white SUV slowly along the streets that weave through campus. The speed limit is 25 or 30 mph, depending on the street, but Winter is in no big rush. 

“I call these my NASCAR laps,” she jokes.

Now in her 10th year at the Academy, Winter has an extensive background in emergency services. Prior to Exeter she worked as a police officer and dispatcher for various law enforcement agencies throughout New Hampshire. In a given day, Winter will do everything from parking enforcement to ensuring campus buildings are locked after hours — but her favorite part of the job is the meaningful interactions she has with the students.

“It’s important to me that I try to get to know each child as much as I possibly can,” she says. “I find the students here fascinating and engaging, and they are by far the best part of my day.”

She’s a mother of three and a grandmother of two, but ask Winter how many children she has and she’ll tell you “over 1,000.”

I make a point to go into Grill during peak hours or interact with students before and after assembly.”

“I truly love the students like they were my own kids. When they're sick I feel badly, when they're hurting I feel badly, when they're making an awesome shot in basketball, I feel proud,” she says. “I think I cry more at graduation than their own parents, every year.”

Winter admits that sometimes, as a person of authority on campus, it can be difficult for students to recognize her as a resource for support.

“Sometimes kids will see me and think, ‘Oh no, there's the campus safety officer, there's something wrong,’” she says. “That’s why I make a point to go into Grill during peak hours or interact with students before and after assembly.”

Lauri Winter with Exeter students in Grill.

Midway through Winter’s patrol shift her radio pings with a code 104 — smoke-alarm activation reported at Gould House. Winter and dispatch begin communication with local fire and police departments who arrive on scene in minutes.

“We have a great working relationship with the Exeter Police Department and the Exeter Fire Department,” she says. “They're really good at helping us be extra eyes and ears around campus, and we're good on the flip side being extra eyes and ears for them around town. It’s a great rapport.”

Winter and firefighters enter the dorm to find that light smoke from a faculty member’s kitchen has triggered the sensitive detectors.

“It just takes a wisp of smoke and once one smoke detector goes off, they all go off,” she says.

Over the years, Winter has responded to all types of calls on campus, from the mundane to “some strange ones.” She recalls the time she helped a faculty member retrieve a set of keys that had fallen down a storm drain. Using basic supplies provided by the facilities department and some ingenuity, Winter was able to retrieve the keys.

“We attached string to a broom handle and attached magnets to the string and I was able to gently pull the keys up through the grate,” she says laughing. “I dropped them a couple of times. It took me about 45 minutes.”

— Adam Loyd