Third-grade students salute Temple University Public Safety employee-veterans, present ‘Thank you for your service’ cards ahead of Veterans Day
Temple’s Department of Public Safety staff includes more than a dozen veterans. Now, they’re sharing lessons they’ve learned from their service to students from Paul L. Dunbar School.
Teacher Angela Berry’s third-grade class from the Paul Laurence Dunbar School stood shoulder-to-shoulder and saluted members of Temple’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) on Thursday, ahead of Veterans Day. The students also gifted ‘Thank you for your service’ cards to the more than dozen veterans who work at DPS.
“This means so much,” said Joe Spera, director of technology for DPS and a U.S. military veteran.
Spera and Len Clark, director of emergency management at DPS and also a military veteran, spoke to the class about their service for the country.
“When you go into the military, you and your family make a huge sacrifice,” Spera told the class. “You don’t make the big money, you don’t drive a fancy car. But you do it knowing that you’re making a difference.”
Spera wore a Marine Corps tie and explained to the class, “It’s the Marine Corps’ birthday on Nov. 10, so I wear this tie in support of Veterans Day.”
Spera worked as a security officer right out of high school in 1979 at Veterans Stadium. That’s where he worked alongside Philadelphia police officers, who Spera said taught him about the importance of serving others. A year later, Spera joined the United States Marine Corps Reserves.
“I served in the U.S. Air Force Security Forces, which means I defended airbases,” Spera said. “It was very rewarding. I loved protecting my country, which is important to do both abroad and here at home.”
Clark also told the class about the importance of serving others.
Following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Clark was deployed to New York City to provide security at Comfort, which is a navy hospital ship. He was later sent to Cuba to protect some of the waterways while suspected terrorists from the Taliban were brought in for detainment at Guantanamo Bay.
“It was very high-security,” he stressed. “What I did was help provide maritime security around the base, so that means we made sure it was safe for boats to come in and out of the base.”
Clark served in the military for eight years and left the service in the rank of lieutenant. He started in his current role with DPS just a few weeks ago and is responsible for the comprehensive disaster management plan for the university.
Spera retired as a master sergeant in the Air Force. He also worked in the Philadelphia Police Department for more than two decades and retired as a lieutenant. He later joined the Drexel Police Department, where he worked for more than 15 years, including several years as its deputy chief. Most recently, Spera started in his role with DPS in September.
“Here at Temple University, I’m working to make big upgrades to technology to make campus safer. It’s my goal to better support our police officers and to give our staff the tools they need,” Spera said.
Both said they are both proud to now serve the Temple community.
“I’m proud to serve because helping people when they don’t know when to turn or what to do is gratifying,” Clark said.
Spera told the class, “It was my calling to not just sit back and watch others protect but to do it myself. Now I get to help protect the thousands of students, staff and faculty at Temple University.”