Montgomery High School senior Gage Cagle has known since he was in first grade that he wants to be a police officer when he grows up. Like most young kids, the bright lights and fast cars were exciting and the attraction to this career choice has never wavered.
Gage moved to Montgomery ISD halfway through his junior year, coming from a technical school in Tulsa, OK. Having had law classes already on his transcript, he was thankful that MISD offered a CTE pathway to continue his studies and has since implemented a practicum level course, offering internship experience within the district, as he shadows and is mentored by officers right here in Montgomery ISD.
“The officers in our district are providing an immense amount of wisdom with their experience,” Gage said. “From officers with HPD experience, former State Troopers, Edelman having worked with SWAT and Stewart having experience with K-9 units, I have a great group of officers to learn from.”
Students in the law enforcement pathway that progress to the practicum level get to experience what being a police officer in the school district is like, not only gaining “boots on the ground” experience, but getting to talk through scenarios, see how decisions are made behind the scenes and gain knowledge that cannot be found in a textbook. Gage works with officers to complete safety checks, door checks, learn about community policing initiatives and their discussion time covers topics including law review, case law and report writing. He has even been able to shadow officers during lock-down and fire drills performed in the district.
As Gage schedules his week, he is spending first through third period four days a week on elementary, junior high and high school campuses and gaining insight from Officers Reed Edelman, Stephen Countz, Don Spradlin and Montgomery HS’s Bruce Stewart and Marcus Bolden.
“Students in this program have the fantastic opportunity to pick the minds of officers that have up to 40 years of experience in law enforcement,” Edelman said. “Obtaining first-hand knowledge from officers who do the job every day can provide invaluable insight into what it means to be a police officer.”
Participating in the law enforcement pathway also provides a significant amount of time studying principles of law, law enforcement and court systems. Through the court systems class, Gage has learned and practiced how to testify in court as both a witness and a police officer, as well as the laws in place in a courtroom regarding legal questioning and evidence submission.
“Court Systems has provided confidence in addition to the experience that the law enforcement internship has,” Gage said. “In competition, it’s a real courtroom experience and I had to memorize the deposition and become very familiar with the facts of our case. It truly prepared me for what a courtroom experience will be like when I’m the officer on the stand.”
The MHS Mock Trial team, led by law enforcement teacher Valerie Krizan, advanced to Regionals this year and earned second place. Before becoming a teacher and starting this program in Montgomery ISD thirteen years ago, Krizan worked in the private sector for 25 years as a paralegal.
“It was great to start this program with my husband, a former HPD officer, giving students experience in Mock Trial through the court systems and law enforcement classes” Krizan said. “But I’m so thankful for the work of Amy Vance and MISD’s growing CTE department in helping us expand this program and provide this internship opportunity for students like Gage.”
Completing a CTE program of study in Montgomery ISD requires great commitment from students, with practicum opportunities often removing the option to have late arrival or early release in order to participate in the internship hours as a senior. Gage is a student that has made that commitment and feels like the benefits of building his resume and creating connections that will help him succeed in his goals are worth the effort and additional time at school.
“I’m learning more than the law from this experience,” Gage said. “As I’m growing in my faith as a Christian, I don’t just want to be a police officer that sends people to jail. I want to help teach and educate and learning from these mentors as they lead and care about the kids in MISD is building confidence in me to do that.”
Krizan has also made connections with the City of Montgomery PD to allow Gage and other law enforcement students to partner with their officers in an internship experience and says that although you have to be 21 to be a police officer, there are opportunities with the Montgomery County Sherriff’s Department for Gage to receive delayed entry to work for the county.
“He’s building his resume, will be a member of the MISD Citizen’s Police Academy and the county is offering an opportunity for our seniors to attend training,” Krizan said. “All these doors are really starting to open, and we’re just really excited about it.”
Gage’s work ethic and enthusiasm for learning has really grabbed the attention of the MISD officers that are helping to provide the internship experience.
“I truly believe that law enforcement is his calling,” Edelman said. “He enjoys learning and understands the concepts of what law enforcement is about. His initiative to expand this program shows his dedication to MISD and future law enforcement officers.”
Gage hopes to attend Sam Houston State and major in Criminal Justice and would like to work with either the Sherriff’s Department or State PD. He’d love to start out working in the jail, sharing encouragement and learning, but if you ask him to dream big, he’d like to be Chief of the State Trooper Division.
“I want to be a faithful steward of God and use my career to help people in the community at the same time,” Gage said.
The MISD Law Enforcement and Legal Studies CTE Pathway is available at both Lake Creek and Montgomery HS and students can begin exploring their interest in this study with Principles of Law Enforcement their freshman year.