Photo: New Hope D.A.R.E 2015
When my youngest son was in second grade, I went to his school conference, and his teacher and I some how got to talking about what I do for a living. When I told her I was the director of Minnesota D.A.R.E., her face lit up. She went on to tell me that D.A.R.E. helped her make the decision to go into teaching. She explained that she came from a family that some problems with drugs and alcohol. She made the conscious decision not to follow that path. In high school, she was asked to be a D.A.R.E. role model (these are high school students who go back to the elementary schools, with their D.A.R.E. officer, to talk about the importance of making good decisions). This decision to become a D.A.R.E. role model was for her; it helped her to decide to go to college to be a teacher. She went on to explain that she had written a short paper on this decision. She told me she still had this paper and forwarded it to me. Her former D.A.R.E. officer was still teaching and I was able to share this with him. He had no idea he had helped me a difference in this student/teacher’s life. His work, trying to make a difference in a child’s life, helped her make a difference in many other children’s lives.
Here is her story:
Using My Past to Help the Future
As Deputy Kantos pulled up to the sidewalk, I felt, as a senior, a little apprehensive, sad, and very excited. This was my last day as a D.A.R.E. role model. It did not seem possible that over three years had passed since my first experiences with the D.A.R.E. program.
I began my work as a D.A.R.E. role model during my sophomore year in high school. I was just starting to become more involved in surrounding activities; volleyball, softball, Student Council, and Captains and Leaders (an organization consisting of captains and presidents, dealing with school policy issues). I was very excited to have the opportunity to work with children, as a role model, but beyond that I was flattered.
Every couple of months, a group of six high school students traveled to some of the elementary schools in the area. Our mission was to share some of our experiences with drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, and adjusting to the junior and senior high schools. We also, on occasion, were able to teach a lesson on the negative aspects of drugs and alcohol.
Not only did we teach the kids, but they taught us. I learned more about myself in the few hours a month I spent in the elementary schools than I did in all of my high school classes combined. I also learned a tremendous amount about elementary kids. One thing that has always stuck in my mind when reflecting on my D.A.R.E. experience is how much these kids love to learn. They were eager to ask questions and listened thoughtfully to the answers. I learned that at this age, kids are proud of what they know and what they can achieve. I found this to be refreshing after spending all day with high school students.
As a teacher, I look forward to the exchange of knowledge with my students. I am consistent yet compassionate, creative and patient. I want to be a part of making kids proud of their knowledge and encouraging them to take this pride on their journey of life.
As deputy Kantos pulled away from the sidewalk, I looked on with a feeling of accomplishment. For three years, I had been making a difference in the lives of many children and they had been doing the same for me.