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Friends & Neighbors: Deputy James Meyer: New D.A.R.E. officer in Saline County

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saline County Sheriff's Deputy James Meyer stands in front of a fifth- and sixth-grade class on Tuesday, Nov. 6, as he instructs their second D.A.R.E. lesson.
(Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News)
After a two week D.A.R.E. instruction school, Deputy James Meyer was certified to be the new D.A.R.E. instruction officer in three Saline County Schools: Orearville, Gilliam and Hardamen. The course is taught to fifth- through eighth-grade students.

D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and is a police officer led series of lessons.

"I go around to the incorporated schools in Saline County and I try to teach the children ways that they can be safe and responsible," Meyer said.

The first week of the instructional class Meyer had to take consisted of one week of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. instruction followed by homework. The second week included presenting a lesson plan to the entire class and interacting with actual students.

"We had to go to the school and the first part was with some fifth graders and speak with them," Meyer said in regard to his final exam interaction. "It wasn't necessarily a lesson. We just kind of hung out with them. Then we went to recess for two hours and played with kids from kindergarten to fifth grade. They wanted to see how we would react with the children."

Being able to interact with the children was part of why Meyer accepted the position.

"Some officers' focus is finding drugs," he said. "Some officers like to find people who are drinking and driving. I like to work with kids. For me this doesn't feel like a job. It's a lot of fun."

Tuesday, Oct. 30, was his first day as a D.A.R.E. instructor.

"It went great. In my four years in law enforcement this has got to be the most fun I've had," Meyer said about his first week teaching the students.

Each lesson is approximately 45 minutes long. Students are presented with scenarios or situations that they could realistically find themselves in, with the seventh- and eighth-grade lessons going more in depth.

In the spring of 2012, the D.A.R.E. program revamped its approach to make it more applicable to real live situations and to give kids the tools they need to make responsible choices.

"The curriculum I learned is brand new, so all the D.A.R.E. officers now have to be re-certified by January 2013," he said. It is about "ways to avoid drugs and alcohol, ways that they can handle peer pressure, things that they will not only use in school, but overall in life."

For example, Meyer asked students how many of them had younger siblings, and after a large amount raised their hands he said, "If you're using drugs or using alcohol do you think you're setting a good example for your sister or your brother?"

He said the reactions on their faces when they realized they were role models made it clear it was something they hadn't thought of before.

The fifth and sixth grade classes are taught the same lessons and the seventh and eighth grade lessons are an enhancement on top of that. Meyer believes the more in depth lessons for seventh and eighth graders are very important; especially for the eighth graders who will soon be freshman.

"Your freshman year, that's when things get serious," he said. "You're going to start figuring out what you want to do in life. You're going to have to really work hard at school and your grades to get where you want to go. If you bring these kinds of bad influences in your life, drugs and alcohol, you may not reach your goals."

Meyer hopes to get the ten-week program going in more schools in Saline County so he can educate as many students as possible.

Deputy James Meyer leads the second D.A.R.E. lesson for Christy Heying's fifth- and sixth-grade class on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at Orearville Elementary.
(Kelsey Alumbaugh/Democrat-News) [Order this photo]
Contact Kelsey Alumbaugh at kalumbaugh@marshallnews.com

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Way to go Dave!

-- Posted by supportem on Tue, Nov 13, 2012, at 7:17 PM

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