SSISD chooses new drug education program

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

June 16, 2008 - Sulphur Springs Independent School District trustees have hired a security officer for Douglas Intermediate School who will teach the district's new drug education program.

Glynda Chester, the Hopkins County Sheriff's Office Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer and patrol deputy, was offered the position to teach the new Drug, Alcohol and Violence Education -- or DAVE -- program to fifth-graders.

"Glynda will go into the classrooms teaching the curriculum," said SSISD Superintendent Patsy Bolton. "She will be at Douglas full time, but can be available to assist at the elementary campuses if something pops up, and will help out with any issues as needed."

"I'm excited about this program," Chester said Thursday, adding the decision to work with the Sulphur Springs school district was a tough one.

"I love the county schools, and I have learned to love and appreciate the kids at the county schools," she said. "I've built a rapport with them over the last few years and will definitely miss them. I hope that I will be able to build the same kind of rapport with the kids at Douglas."

SSISD had used the DARE curriculum for close to two decades, but dropped the program at the end of 2007.

"We changed the program because research shows DARE is not as effective as it once was," Bolton said, adding Douglas Principal Tona Sue Hudson researched and recommended the new program.

Chester is looking forward to being a role model and mentor students, fulfilling the part of the job that includes providing positive recognition of students' actions and efforts, and motivation for them to continue making positive choices.

If the response of the county students when they learned Chester was seriously injured in a car crash in April is any indicator -- she was flooded with heartfelt get well cards, letters, posters and pictures from her county D.A.R.E. students during her recovery -- she shouldn't have any problems making the adjustment to the new program or the building a rapport with the students.

The security officer will be involved with the students during lunch time, special activities and assemblies. If time and resources permit, she will also incorporate a service-learning project to get students more involved in the community.

Chester will have an office on the Douglas campus, as well as a car which is being painted to identify it as the DAVE car. The idea is not only to provide campus education and a security officer for Douglas, but also for the officer and car to serve as a deterrent for any untoward behavior or unsavory characters.

"We think this will have a great deal of effect," Bolton said. "With society's fears and threats of terrorism in today, just having the officer and car are visible deterrents. We're hoping that by just being there it will deter inappropriate behavior by students and adults."

The Douglas officer will also be in charge of routine duties such as directing traffic when students are being dropped off and picked up.

Chester will continue to serve as a deputy at Hopkins County Sheriff's Office until school starts in August. In the meantime, HCSO will be searching for a new officer to fill Chester's slot and continue the DARE program in county schools, hopefully by the start of the 2008-2009 school year, HCSO Chief Deputy Rickey Morgan said.

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