Influencer of the Week: Samuel McFarland, Whispering Oak Elementary School | West Orange Times & Observer

Samuel McFarland is a police officer with the Winter Garden Police Department. He is assigned to Whispering Oak Elementary School as a school resource officer and is tasked with the safety and security of the campus. Principal Lee “Kip” Montgomery said McFarland is a great role model for the students and works to instill positive lessons in the children, is courteous and active in school classrooms, helps with lunch duty, and assists parents and staff with various needs.

What do you love most about your school?

I like the feeling of community that is fostered by the staff, teachers and PTO. This keeps the parents involved with many of the activities which in turn brings the community together.

What is your motivation?

My motivation is protecting the students and staff, providing a safe environment where teaching and learning can be accomplished while creating positive interactions between law enforcement, the students, staff and community.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The reward is seeing the students grow and develop over the course of the school year, maturing and overcoming the challenges of academics and life.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to spend time with my family, watching and coaching my kids in sports, and attending Orlando Solar Bears games.

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school and why?

Mrs. McGuire, my kindergarten teacher. Everyone thought she was mean, but she taught us structure and discipline. And from there, we learned all of the basic necessities to be successful in the years to follow. Although she was strict, she was fair and had our best interests in mind.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to join the US Marines to be like several of my uncles who served in the Marine Corps. I also wanted to be a police officer so I could protect people who were vulnerable and unable to protect themselves from those who would prey on them. I have been able to accomplish both of these goals and have found the opportunity to protect our children from harm to be one of the most rewarding opportunities in my career.

What is your favorite children’s book and why?

I always liked Disney’s “The Fox and the Hound,” because of the unlikely friendship formed between Todd and Copper. Anyone can be friendly and look out for others, and good friendships are worth their weight in gold.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy hunting, fishing, camping, kayaking, sports and spending time outdoors. I enjoy watching the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as well as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I think that it would be neat to be able to fly, because you could get to places more quickly and see things from a bird’s eye view. I also think that it would be nice to just soar above the noise, enjoying the peace and quiet and relaxing on the breeze.

What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student? Any favorite snacks or special treats you remember?

PB&J was always a favorite go-to—and still is. I getting remember a bag of Combos in my lunch for the first time and thinking they were a special treat. I still enjoy Combos, pretzels and pretzels with peanut butter centers. Other special treats were Star Crunch or Oatmeal Cream Pies.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

I like Thanksgiving. It comes in the fall when the weather is cooling down and getting nice, the leaves are changing, hunting season and other outdoor activities are enjoyable. I also enjoy spending time with family and all the good food and desserts. It is also a good time to remind us of all the many things we have to be thankful for.

Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?

My wife, Anna. We were best friends and high-school sweethearts. She is still my best friend, and we enjoy life together.

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