Unlikely friendship between security guard and middle school student

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Last month middle schoolers across the metro were asked to answer one question: Who is your hero?

From hundreds of responses, six stood out and that includes one from Camey Havenridge. She said she found her hero after having conversations in the school hallway which gave her a sense of security.

Patrolling the halls at Morton Magnet Middle School, Robert Martinez can recognize most students’ faces.

“I pay attention to every kid in the hallway; I know who goes here or not,” said Martinez.

Though he said there's some faces some that stand out, like Havenridge’s.

“She's a pretty good role model when she wants to be,” said Martinez.

And in Camey Havenridge's world of going to school, Mr. Martinez stands out, too. The soft spoken middle schooler says he's like her big brother.

“I used to get kicked out of class like every day and sometimes more than once a day and he would always help me in the hallway and we would talk about what I was doing that I could change to do better in class,” said Havenridge.

He's not the counselor, or a teacher. He's the security guard. A role that Havenridge says goes far beyond his job of watching the front doors. If a student gets kicked out of class, as Havenridge once knew far too well, Mr. Martinez is there to listen.

"I'm not trying to be another parent to them. I'm trying to see what's bothering them,” Martinez said. “A lot of people will just walk right by and see a student in the hallway, but I'll at least go try to talk to them and it may annoy the crap out of them but I'm more of a mentor other than a security guard here.”

He says mentor, Havenridge says hero.

“He understands that I’m a kid and things are going to happen and he works with me to be better in class,” said Havenridge.

In fact, she wrote about it as part of the annual Heroes Essay Contest through the Red Cross' Heroes of the Heartland event. From more than 600 entries, she was one of 6 chosen as a winner.

I thought she was messing with me because a lot of kids do here,” said Martinez. “But I did tell her she used pretty good vocabulary compared to other kids in her grade.”

Earlier this month, the Red Cross honored her on stage for her excellent writing, and Mr. Martinez' dedication to helping kids.

Since her essay, the two have developed a stronger friendship, one they both say won't disappear any time soon.