If These Halls Could Talk: Security Guard Kelly McDonnell


Photo by Olivia De'Ath

Security guard Kelly McDonnell talks to junior Jalinn Brooks as they pass in the rotunda hallway in between classes.

Iris Valentin, Features Managing Editor

After protecting two U.S. presidents as a member of the secret service, RHS’ newest security guard decided it was time to protect the country’s future: students.  

Security guard Kelly McDonnell joined RHS at the beginning of this school year after working at Paint Branch High School (PBHS) for 25 years. McDonnell is RHS’ second female security guard along with Teressa Holmes.

“Ms. McDonnell and I get along really well,” Holmes said. “We both take care of the students during the school day, but she has her own way of connecting with them.”

McDonnell quickly settled into life at RHS as she builds a reputation of always reaching out to students when she sees them in the hallway to check in on how they are doing.  

“I like Ms. McDonnell because she is really nice with the students just by saying ‘hi’ or ‘how was your day,’” junior Erin Swan said.

Before becoming a Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) security guard, McDonnell was a member of the United States secret service during President Ronald Reagan’s term and the Bush Sr. term in the late 1980s and early 1990s. McDonnell said she appreciates her daily routine in a school after working for the government.

“I [would] rather work with students and help them accomplish their goals since it is rewarding,” McDonnell said. “Working in law enforcement, there are bad things that happen in society but [here] there is a lot of positivity.”

Last November while working at PBHS, McDonnell dislocated her arm and was replaced with a new security guard. After her recovery, she was sent to work at RHS by MCPS Human Resources.

“I wasn’t really happy that they had replaced me since I lived in the community,” she said. “Once I found out that I was assigned to Rockville, I was happy because it is a really good school and community.”

Even though McDonnell is new here, she does have history with one staff whom she worked with at PBHS: assistant principal John Haas. Haas was one of the administrators working with security over at PBHS, where he took the time to get know McDonnell as well as her family.

“Mrs. McDonnell and I go way back when we used to work at Paint Branch in 2003,” Haas said. “What is special about her is that she wants to make a strong connection with students just by talking to them.”

With only two female security guards currently on the team, some female students have expressed how much they appreciate having them in the building.

“[Female students] feel more secure [talking] about topics such as fights or drama,” Swan said.