Molly Irwin’s Campus Supervisor Story

Tillie Mendoza, Staff Writer

The sound of the entrance doors closing echoes through an empty building. One hour before notebooks are being opened, desks are being filled, and classes are in session, Molly Irwin performs her regular check of the school ensuring that all of its students and staff members can be confident in knowing they are safe.

Spending 15 years as the campus supervisor for Erie High School means Irwin is no stranger to the responsibilities of her job. Even through modifications according to COVID-19 and increases in school shootings, it has always been her number one priority to guarantee safety.

She explains, “Every day [I get] here at 6:45, and I do a full check of the school just basically from one end to the other. Making sure everything is in place, everybody that is here is supposed to be here, no doors or anything [else] looks funny from the night before. And then throughout the day [I] constantly monitoring all around the building,” She adds, “Just making sure kids are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there, making sure our staff feels secure and safe also…but once again, giving you guys a place where you are comfortable coming each day, knowing that you are coming to a safe place.”

Irwin follows a rigorous protocol to make sure all visitors and staff members entering the building are not going to pose a threat, but she also handles problems in or even outside the school concerning bullying and home life. She says she wants students to know she is an adult they can come to with any problem, “Good, bad, or ugly.” She comments, “Any of those things, that is what I am here for.”

Her passion for protecting and working with the public started at a young age. Before she was even old enough to enter the workforce, Irwin had a dream of becoming a police officer and breaking the pattern of teachers in her family.

She says, “My sister is a teacher, my mother, my grandmother, my aunts, all of my great aunts…everybody went into some type of teaching position. So when I went to school up at UNC, I did start as if I was going to be a teacher. After the first year, I knew that was not what I wanted to be.” She then changed her degree to criminal justice.

“It was just more my personality and my desire [for] what I wanted to do because I still wanted to help and serve, but I just did not want to go down the teacher path,” She states, “I needed something that was going to be hands-on, active, exciting… and I can’t stand still, so I wanted to be constantly moving and learning. But I also needed something where I could still be with the public, because I am extremely social.”

The roots for pursuing a career as a police officer were cultivated in her earlier years. She begins, “I was raised with a Southern mother, a very strict Southern mother. I was a tomboy, I grew up hunting, fishing, camping, and in a very outdoorsy family. I grew up rodeoing too.”

With no means of transportation, she spent most of her time playing with her brother in the mountains where they lived. She reflects, “That was our playground, all of the mountains. Then I have an older sister who is eight years older than me, and she was a girly girl. Me and my brother tortured her because she did not like the outdoors, she liked being a girly girl and still is to this day. We always told her she was adopted because she had nothing in common with us.”

Irwin continued her love of being active in high school, while also expanding her social group. “I did get a lot of people who made fun of [me] since not a lot of girls hunted and fished. But I had friends from every clique you could imagine. I was in volleyball, basketball, and soccer, and I had friends from the sports clique, I was friends with a lot of the rodeo kids, and it was just sort of a big modge podge of friends,” She says.

Balancing her interests with her academics was difficult for her as school got harder, since she was also dealing with ADHD and pressure from her parents to maintain a B average.

“C’s were not acceptable for my parents, [they were] very strict. Sports [were] my big thing and my parents always said if I had C’s I was not going to play sports, even if the school allowed C’s. And so I learned at a young age that I needed to study and get good grades. It was important for me but it was more important that I did not make my parents mad. I now see why the importance of it came to be.”

After graduating high school in 1992, she met her husband of 25 years, Heath Irwin. They had known each other in high school and were now attending separate schools, and coincidentally met again. She explains, “As sophomores in college, he went to CU and I went to UNC. I had come down on a weekend to visit my friends, and he had asked me to go out with him and his friends. And that was it.”

Within one month of finalizing the marriage, Heath was drafted by the NFL to play for the New England Patriots. Irwin was able to work at the Foxborough Police Department and achieve amazing things despite being in a completely new environment and going through her first pregnancy.

“I really wanted to be a DEA agent when I was going through school,” she says, “so as I was finishing up there I was also working with the PDE in Foxborough. They called for the top ten candidates for the police academy because up there you had to be sponsored by a police department in order to go to an academy. And when they called I was the only female in the top ten that were given to them.”

She turned down the offer due to being three months pregnant at the time. She also adds, “We had no family around, it was a new place, and so [Heath and I] got very close because we only had each other up there until we started meeting people. Being new to the NFL was hard too, he was a rookie and we did not know anybody, and here we are coming into a whole new world. It was really hard at first.”

Although she did enjoy meeting new people and making lifelong connections and memories in New England, Irwin knew she had to put her lifelong dream on hold if she wanted to return to something that was even more important to her, and that was starting her family.

Irwin had always known she wanted to be a mother when she grew up. She has a good relationship with her family and they work hard to stay as close as possible. She says, “We are very very close-knit, my folks are in their 80’s now so we sort of watch over them, my sister and I do, to make sure they have everything they need. I talk to my sister usually once a day if not twice a day, and we do family gatherings and get together.” Moving back from New England meant more opportunities to connect with her parents and more opportunities for her children to see them. It also meant Irwin would have to find a new job.

The gateway for becoming a campus supervisor for her was the desire to find a career that allowed the right amount of time with her kids. She says, “I knew I wanted to work with the public, I did not specifically know that I wanted to work with kids until my kids went back to school and I wanted a job that worked with my kids’ schedule.”

It was important for her to keep a close and positive relationship between her and her children, while also pursuing something she knew she would enjoy and excel at. She continues, “I wanted a schedule where I can still have the time off to be with my kids, go to their sporting events, and just be very active with them. [Being a campus supervisor] just ended up being a job that I absolutely adored since I get to have a different relationship with the kids than a teacher does because I get to be sort of a mom at school.”

During all of her time working at Erie High School, Irwin says she loves her job and would never consider going anywhere else. “I have made so many relationships here and they will be long-term.” She says. “The front office ladies and the team up here, we are all very close and if you go to other schools you will not find the connection that you do here at Erie with basically a bunch of women in the same place.”

One of the many friendships she has made was with Loretta Hardin who works as the head secretary at the front office. They were hired within two weeks of each other, and Irwin says they, “Kicked it off pretty well and became really close friends, and therefore our families spent a lot of time together.” Hardin’s son Ryan and Irwin’s daughter Bailee became especially close, and what was once a casual friendship eventually blossomed into an engagement.

Originally, nothing was suspected of the two frequently working out together or meeting up. Irwin comments, “She would ask if they could go to lunch and this and that, and we did not think anything of it. Loretta and I were just like, ‘Oh, they are working out together. We had no idea until after Christmas break that this was turning into something more than just workout partners.”

After Bailee returned to Colorado from Montana State University for fall and winter break, Irwin and her husband encouraged their daughter to stay where she was for spring break. Bailee said she would pay for her own tickets, and Irwin says, “Then we knew something was different. That was because her and Ryan were starting to date.” Bailee then moved back to Colorado to finish the rest of her schooling at Colorado State University in order to be closer to her fiancé. The wedding is planned to take place at the Irwins’ farm in October of 2021.

Bailee was raised in Mead, Colorado before moving on to college, and has always had a tight bond with her parents. She hopes to maintain this relationship with her mother even after getting married and moving forward in her own life. Her and her fiancé Ryan have plans to move closer to the Irwin family in order to continue their already very close relationship. Bailee says Irwin is, “…extremely outgoing, caring, and she would do anything for anyone which is absolutely awesome. But she is very fun too.”

Irwin values the connections she has made with everyone she has got the chance to work with, including coworkers and students. She has made too many meaningful memories to count. “I have got pictures of babies of kids that I have had here at Erie High School. I just recently sent off a package to one of them that had just had a baby. I have been invited to many weddings and many baby showers, and they are kids that I will be close with for time to come.”

Forming interpersonal bonds with kids attending the school is one of Irwin’s favorite parts of her job. She wishes more students knew her aim was not just to punish, her overall goal is to provide help and support wherever it is needed. “A lot of people, when I walk into the room to get a student or when I talk to them in the hall, associate me with ‘bad’. They think I only go after bad students or that is the only interaction that I have. I have a lot of parents that say, ‘Oh you will never have a problem with my kids. You probably will not even meet my kids because they are good kids.’ Well that is the one thing I love about my job, I am here for all of my kids and I do not look at any of them as bad, or if they are a good student, or this and that.”

Irwin finishes, “I want to get to know each of my kids here because I care about them all. I care about the ones that struggle just as much as the ones that really do not have any issues,” she continues, “If I cannot help them, I give them to somebody that can. Just letting the kids know that every one of them is important to me and I am not just here to bust your butt and get you in trouble, or scream at you, or any of that. That is sometimes what the campus supervisor stigma is.”

Irwin prides herself in coming to work every day with the purpose of improving school life for students. She concludes, “I can be scary if you lie or do something like that, but I am not a scary person. I am here for you through the good and the bad, and it does not matter what you have done. I look at you no differently the next day when you walk into this school.”

Molly Irwin’s hard-working, dedicated, and meaningful ways as a campus supervisor improve the security of Erie High School for students and staff alike. She greatly appreciates the memories she has made in her job so far and takes on her career every day in a way that ensures many more.