D.A.R.E. educator Mary Waters teaches from the heart

SRO Mary Waters serves at Ruhama Junior High School. There, she teaches a D.A.R.E. course that focuses on instructing fifth graders how to handle various senarious and situations in life, including drugs and bullying. 

Mary Waters serves as the School Resource Officer (SRO) at Ruhama Junior High School. Her background in law enforcement has made her well qualified to serve in this position.

Waters began her career with the Tampa, Florida Police Department, where she was the first female to be hired onto the force. While in Tampa, she worked Uniform Patrol, Selective Enforcement Unit, and VICE.

Officer Waters left Tampa to work for the Orlando P.D. in Uniform Patrol and Courthouse Security (Judge Protection). After leaving Orlando, she became a deputy with the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office where she worked on the Drug Task Force, Uniform Patrol and Major Crimes Investigation.

In addition to being certified to teach the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) class her training in drug enforcement gives her a practical skill set to encourage young ones to resist the temptation to use drugs.

Water’s background in Major Crimes Investigation was geared towards crimes against children which heightened her desire to be protective of the needs of minors.

“D.A.R.E. class is about more than just telling kids not to take drugs,” said Waters. “It is about getting them to think about the consequences of their actions. I take my time with each lesson plan to help them think about the choices they make in life.”

The D.A.R.E. program is targeted at fifth graders. Fifth graders were actually asked questions as the program was being developed to help adults see what would work to help young people resist bad choices.

“The fact that the children who take the class are about the age of 12 is no mistake,” said Waters. “That is the age that they began to be affected by this problem and the age that they start making some decisions for themselves. Vaping seems to be one of the biggest issues kids are facing these days.”

Waters said they do a lot of role playing in class and make posters. “I try to make it fun for them to keep them engaged,” said Waters.

The program also covers the topic of bullying and peer pressure and how to handle those situations.

“I help the children see that different situations can be handled in various ways,” said Waters. “It all depends on who is doing the bullying.”

Waters said she knows that the class has an effect on her students. Some of them have told her that they have asked their parents not to have harmful behaviors around them and the parents responded in a positive manner.

Her best advice to parents is, “Regularly, talk with and listen to your children.”

– This column, written by Marla Ballard, will appear as a series in the Times-Journal weekend editions to feature DeKalb County School Resource Officers. A series highlighting the SROs in the Fort Payne City School System will follow.

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