Admired and respected by both students and staff at Springbrook High School, Oliver Riggs, Jr., is the school’s security team leader—but he’s also much more. To some students, he’s junior varsity basketball coach. To others, he’s a friend and mentor. To staff, he’s an advocate.
Riggs’ commitment to Springbrook students and staff earned him this year’s SEIU Local 500 Champions for Children Supporting Services Employee of the Year Award for 2005.
Riggs will be honored, along with the Teacher of the Year, the Edward Shirley administrator award winner, Greenblatt Excellence in Education recipients, and others at the April 19 Champions for Children Gala hosted by the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education.
Born and raised in the Silver Spring area, Riggs is a retired Montgomery County firefighter. He first came to the attention of Springbrook Principal Michael Durso several years ago when he was an MCPS bus driver and parent of a Springbrook student. Durso asked him to join the school’s security team when a position became available. Last year, Riggs became security team leader.
Durso notes that Riggs “is extremely well organized, manages his team well, handles verbal and written communication with ease—and most importantly, he has the confidence of the student body, staff and administration at Springbrook.”
That confidence is expressed in many ways. Students stop by Riggs’ office for advice and help with schoolwork. He works one-on-one with both students and staff to resolve problems and conflicts, treating everyone equitably and with respect. As a coach, through mentoring his players, he has had only one ineligible athlete in the past four years.
“No matter what the problem or situation, he is always available and handles it with professionalism and confidentiality,” says security assistant Barbara Guinto.
That confidence Riggs inspires was reflected in his selection last spring, by an overwhelming majority of the Class of 2005, as the guest speaker for Springbrook’s 2005 graduation. “I knew that since he had touched so many students in my class, hearing him reflect and share his wisdom on our graduation day would be a great treat to us all,” says Utsha Khatri, a member of the senior class council that chose Riggs as speaker. “Mr. Riggs certainly did his job as part of the security team to ensure that all students felt safe and secure,” Khatri adds. “More than that, though, with his warm smile, wise words and fun personality, Mr. Riggs created an environment in which students felt comfortable, welcomed and happy.”