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SROs to offer safety classes

Temple Hill Principal Angie Vaughn said Thursday, Jan. 3, marked not only the first day back to school, but also the first day for Temple Hill Elementary school to have a full-time school resource officer.
“To my knowledge, we’ve had officers that come in the mornings and afternoons, but not all day,” Vaughn said.
The mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school last month brought the topic of increased security to the national level as well as to the attention of Unicoi County officials. Each county school has been assigned a full-time school resource officer.
“I think it’s excellent,” Vaughn said. “On one hand you don’t ever want to believe that you need security because we are such a small, community-oriented school, but at the same time you’re just thankful to have a SRO.”
Vaughn said the students at Temple Hill have embraced having Unicoi County Sheriff’s Department SRO Supervisor Jimmy Erwin for the whole day.
“We’re very grateful to have Jimmy here. The students are excited,” Vaughn said on Thursday. “A lot of our students already knew him. They were happy to see him this morning.”
Vaughn said her students are aware of the Connecticut shooting and also realize Erwin is there for their safety.
“Our kids are just phenomenal kids and they really adjust well to changes,” Vaughn said. “Some of them have said, ‘we know why he is here … because of the shootings.’”
Children were greeted by Erwin on Thursday morning for their first day back as well as their guardians.
“As the parents were dropping the kids off at school, they were thanking us for being here,” Erwin said. “This gives us an opportunity to build some relationships with the citizens of the Temple Hill and Flag Pond area. We’ll know their names and faces and they will know our names and faces. We’re building a rapport where if the kids need to talk to somebody or the parents have concerns of something going on they will have an officer right here that they can talk to.”
Vaughn said Erwin already has plans to implement programs about safety, which will relate to Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) when students reach grades five and six.
“It will be really good to have him go into our classrooms and talk to our kids and have him go through some safety of those programs with them,” Vaughn said.
William Myrick, who was waiting after school for his son on Thursday, said he is impressed by the idea that safer schools will be supplemented with safety education for the younger children.
“That’s awesome, especially in light of what happened in Connecticut last month,” said Myrick as he waited in the Intermediate School pick-up zone. “I’ve seen a greater presence of officers at the intersections and on school grounds. It makes me feel a lot better to send my son to school here.”
Erwin said one of the most important aspects of his job is to make sure all students, faculty and staff in the county school system feel safe at school.

For the remainder of this article please pick up the Jan 8 2013 edition of The Erwin Record.

By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
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