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Leslie Gamble
Manager, Public & Government Affairs
O: (405) 753-8040
C: (405) 488-7611

Mark Madeja
Senior Specialist, Public & Government Affairs
O: (918) 748-1074
C: (918) 935-9318

May 19, 2021 —AAA Oklahoma proudly announces this year’s Outstanding School Safety Patroller in Metro-Tulsa. Vanna Gomez, a fourth grader at Jenks East Elementary School, has been selected for the honor. Like thousands of her peers across the country, Vanna has remained committed to keeping her fellow students safe and being a positive leader in her school community despite the challenges posed by learning during the pandemic.  She is one of only two patrollers in the state recognized with the honor.

On her nomination form, Vanna’s advisor commented that Vanna is an excellent listener and always follows directions. “Vanna is very kind to others. Her post is in Pre-K, and she does an outstanding job with the young students,” said Laura Neal, Jenks East Elementary School Safety Patrol Advisor. “She has learned their names and greets them individually daily.”

Jenks East Elementary School is also one of 10 recipients across the country of the AAA School Safety Patrol Charles M. Hayes Advancement Grant. The $500 Advancement Grant, administered by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, provides an opportunity for exemplary schools to expand or enhance existing Patrol programs. The emphasis is on safety and educational benefits the program provides to students and the lifesaving contributions to the community.

The commitment shown by Vanna and the Jenks East Elementary School community is part of the legacy of the AAA School Safety program which is now in its 100thyear.

Created to make schoolchildren safer while walking to school, the program has grown-up and matured with the times while remaining steadfast to its mission to provide a safer environment and leadership opportunities for millions of schoolchildren. The training that patrollers receive instills safety sense beyond street crossings, including bus and car drop-offs, monitoring hallway congestion, and teaching patrollers invaluable leadership skills. 

“It’s the extraordinary leadership of students like Vanna and countless others that have made the legacy program so impactful for decades. This school year continued to be a challenge for School Safety Patrol; advisors and patrollers have risen to the challenge of keeping students safe,” said AAA Oklahoma Public Affairs Senior Specialist Mark Madeja. “Their actions save lives. Patrollers serve as role models across the state.”

 Some schools were virtual, some met in person and others operated in a hybrid setting. Whatever the setting, those schools that kept students engaged and maintained their school safety patrol group proved endurance and dedication are lessons instilled in students this year.  The leadership values and safety awareness have inspired many alumnus patrollers to pursue admirable careers, including current President Joe Biden.

Other notable patrollers include former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, astronauts, governors, Members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, Olympic medalists, and authors, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney. Many patrollers now serve as educators, executives, and community leaders. 

Over the last 100 years, interest in and excitement for the program have spread around the world. The AAA model has been adopted in at least 30 other countries, including England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.    

Since 1920, AAA provides various equipment and education materials to patrollers, including reflective belts, patrol badges and training resources. To learn how to bring the AAA School Safety Patrol to your school, email

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