When Rodney Warren graduated from Meridian High School in 2007 as a three-sport athlete, he never dreamed that he would be coaching those same three sports, football, basketball and baseball at Northwest Middle School.
He also never imagined he would be working with 60 kids at The Crossings Residential Treatment Center at Alliance Health Center in Meridian.
Today, Warren, 32, is a mental health technician at The Crossings, where he is responsible for supervising students ages 12-17 who live at the center as they receive treatment for conduct disorders, substance abuse, physical or sexual abuse.
Warren began working part-time at The Crossings in October 2019.
He has worked full-time since March to make sure residents are protected and safe during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 changed a lot for us, but my job is to make sure students are safe, clean, and wear their masks at all times," Warren said. "I assist in keeping them on the right track.
“We have handled the new normal well, I think. It is hard to get used to wearing that mask for eight hours, but we all know it is for everyone’s safety, “ he added.
Warren also helps supervise residents in their outdoor activities, such as throwing footballs or shooting basketballs.
“This is just an extension of what I do every day with my students and athletes at Northwest, just in a more controlled environment,” Warren said.
Rae Andreacchio, director of The Crossings, said Warren’s transition from coach to mental health technician has been smooth.
“He is very dedicated and has been a great addition; he always goes the extra mile," Andreacchio said. "His school background makes him an ideal worker in this position.”
For his exemplary work, Warren was presented with the Milieu Management Award for the first quarter of 2020.
The recognition was given for his excellence in all aspects of safety and maintaining patient flow throughout the day.
Odell Hampton, psychiatric technician supervisor, said Warren was a natural choice for the honor.
“He is an outstanding individual, a self-starter who requires very little to no supervision," Hampton said. "He is trustworthy and strives to be fair. I am very proud to have him on our team.”
The award was a surprise to Warren.
"It just shows that my work and dedication to the residents is being noticed,” he said.
Ernie Watson, who was Warren’s basketball coach at Meridian High, said he is not surprised by Warren's accomplishments.
“He was a great leader, played point guard for me," Watson said. "He always showed great leadership skills, and when he became a senior that year, it was his team. He knew how to handle any problem that arose.”
Warren has been involved in working with young people in some way for a long time. He also prides himself on being a father and role model to his young daughters, Londyn, 9, and Raelyn, 7.
“It makes your job easy when you do something you love,” Warren said.