Bland County Deputies D.A.R.E. to Teach
Bland County Elementary and Middle School students will find familiar faces teaching their D.A.R.E. classes in the coming spring.
Bland County deputies and school resource officers Randy Dillow and Jason Ramsey completed the D.A.R.E. America training program earlier this month and are ready to impart their knowledge on Bland County’s young minds.
Image: Deputies Jason Ramsey (left) and Randy Dillow recently completed a D.A.R.E. training class.
Dillow said the two-week training program had much to teach the two deputies.
“They kind of took police officers and taught us how to be teachers,” he said.
Dillow said the classes adhere to a strict curriculum that he believes will strongly benefit students.
“I think they can benefit in more ways than just saying no to drugs and alcohol.”
While most are familiar with the D.A.R.E. program, Dillow said the program has much more to bring to the table than most realize.
“Everyone thinks D.A.R.E. is just about drugs and alcohol and tobacco, but it’s not really. It does touch on that but there’s much more to it.”
Dillow said, in addition to learning to abstain from drug and alcohol use, students will also learn self awareness, responsible decision making and communication skills, and how to handle responsibilities and challenges.
The program also fosters a strong anti-bullying component, he said.
“It’s really a good program. These kids can take away a little of everything and learn to be a better person,” Dillow said.” If they listen, it can help them in all aspects of life.”
The D.A.R.E America program first came to Bland County in 1989 and was taught for the majority of those 27 years by former deputy Lori Hanshew.
With Hanshew’s departure in March, the Sheriff’s Office and the school system were left without a qualified D.A.R.E. officer.
During the interim, Sheriff Tom Roseberry said his office collaborated with Wythe County Sheriff’s Office, who “lent” one of its D.A.R.E. officers so that Bland County students wouldn’t miss the class.
“Thank goodness Sheriff Dunagan was able to help us out, so it went off without a hitch this school year,” Roseberry said.
The sheriff noted that the training of both school resource officers allows the program to be taught at the elementary and high schools.
“This is the first year we’ve ever had a middle school D.A.R.E.,” he said.
In previous years, D.A.R.E. classes were only taught to fifth graders at Bland County Elementary.
Dillow is based at Bland County Elementary and Ramsey is based at Bland County High.
The two deputies have both been with the Bland County Sheriff’s Office for 20-plus years and have spent the last year as resource officers at their respective schools.
The two hope to begin teaching the 10-week classes in mid-March.