MBK Safety Officers Save Lives

  • The Public Safety Officers (PSO) in each of Yonkers’ 39 schools are often the first and last faces students see every day at school.  They are responsible for the safety and well-being of the students, parents, staff and visitors in their respective buildings. As they keep the hallways clear and safe, many of them get to know students well, sometimes assisting with social conflicts and family issues.  A growing number of dedicated PSOs put their talents and protective instincts to work with their schools’ MBK chapters. “In MBK, they are mentors, leaders, relationship builders, guidance counselors, motivators and, most of all, great listeners,” said Yonkers MBK Program Coordinator Gregory Joyner.

    They also mentor one another. Connections among them run deep.

    Robert Bannister, Gorton High School 
    Number of Years in District: 31
    Mr. Bannister, a former football coach, began working as an MBK advisor in 2016 at Lincoln High School. He helped to grow Lincoln's MBK chapter with administrators, leading “straight talk” sessions, libation practices, organizing events such as basketball tournaments, and establishing powerful programming such as “The Mask You Live In”.   A Gorton High School alumnus, Mr. Bannister moved to Gorton this year, where he provides one-to-one mentorship with MBK students.  Said Principal William Shaggura, “Robert Bannister has shown passion for and leadership to the MBK program. His dedication to our MBK students is like no other and is commendable.”Mr. Bannister praised the many district’s public safety officers who unofficially carry out the purpose and spirit of MBK by providing support and helping “redirect” students to positive outlets.
    Catchphrase: “If you make a mistake, it’s not a failure but it is a pause. If you keep putting pauses in your life, you lose valuable time.”   
    Fun Fact: Mr. Bannister and Mr. Young grew up together on Vineyard Avenue in Yonkers and have been friends for 41 years. 

    Lawrence Young, Enrico Fermi School
    Number of Years in District: 21   
    Mr. Young began supporting Enrico Fermi’s MBK Chapter in 2016.  For much of the last two years, he has supervised afterschool meetings twice a week. Meetings have included a book club, physical activity, community service and always, life-skills. He helps organize special events, chaperones MBK field trips and helps connect his students with older MBK brothers at Lincoln High School.  “He lives and breathes family and faith,” said Assistant Principal and MBK Liaison Dr. Vanessa Vasquez. “He brings those values to the students. Sometimes students can’t count on what’s at home. While they’re here, we give them a sense of family.”
    Fun Fact:  Mr. Young graduated Saunders Trades and Technical High School in 1995 with PSO Freddie Bartley.
    Catchphrase: “It’s your day. You have power to make it what you want. Don’t give up your power to anyone.”

    Kenneth Taylor, Saunders Trades & Technical High School
    Number of Years in District: 1   
    Mr. Taylor oversees Saunders MBK, running all chapter meetings and programs, including the chapter’s MBK governing council, MBK’s afterschool study hall and MBK Breast Cancer fundraiser. “He’s the backbone of the program,” said Assistant Principal and MBK Liaison Angelo Petrino. Since he was hired at Saunders in January 2018, “He has helped revitalize the program here and he does it from the heart.”  Principal Steven Mazzola agreed, “He is a terrific individual who has quickly become a favorite of the staff and, of course, the students whom he addresses by name every day.”
    Fun Fact: Mr. Taylor displayed his leadership talents as a student at Lincoln High School, says another Saunders PSO Abeautis Steward who worked at Lincoln at the time. “He was always a team player, a positive, respectful and approachable young man, a leader. He has a gift for working with young people.
    Catchphrase: “Think smarter, not harder.”

    Frederick Bartley, Saunders Trades & Technical High School
    Number of Years in District: 12
    In addition to his daily mentoring of Saunders’ students, Mr. Bartley attends all Saunders MBK chapter meetings, special events and fundraisers.  He not only encourages students to join MBK, last year, he encouraged the school’s new Safety Officer, Mr. Taylor, to get involved as well. As advisor to Saunders’ Music Club, he is intent on creating a Yonkers MBK Men’s Gospel Choir.   “He loves music and uses his talent to “orchestrate” the lives of young men of color he comes in contact with. In his position as a school safety officer Mr. Bartley counsels, corrects and unconditionally cares for his MBK students," said Mr. Joyner.
    Fun Fact:  Mr. Bartley was a Safety Officer at Lincoln High School when Mr. Taylor attended, graduating in 2006.
    Catchphrase: “Any fool can learn from his own mistakes. It takes a wise man to learn from the mistakes of others.”

    Abeautis Steward,  Saunders Trades & Technical High School
    Number of Years in District: 20
    On the front lines of preventing the escalation of student conflicts and personal challenges, Ms. Steward regularly directs students to MBK.  She works one-to-one with MBK and other students to help them secure the support they need, including counseling and job referrals.  Most importantly, she is a trusted confidante.  “Kids need to be listened to,” she said.
    Catchphrase: “I may not be your mother, but I can still tell you something caring to guide you the right way.”
    Fun Fact: Ms. Steward has held many roles in Yonkers Public Schools. Her first role in the district was as a classroom aide at Martin Luther King, Jr. Academy in 1994. 

    Michael Lanteri, Palisade Preparatory School
    Number of Years in District: 20
    Mr. Lanteri is the safety officer on duty during MBK’s Future Leaders Academy, a program he calls “outstanding.”  The six-week Saturday enrichment program offers young men in grades 7-12 instruction in technology, civics, and life skills. He is the first person to greet the students every week and ensures they all arrive at their respective classrooms safely. Though Mr. Lanteri said he is simply the school safety officer on duty, Mr. Mack considers him an integral part of the team.
    Fun Fact: As a Lincoln High School student, Mr. Lanteri played football against Future Leaders Academy/Palisade Preparatory School teacher Carl Jenkins, who played for Lincoln High School, both graduates of the class of 1983.