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My Most Rewarding Experience Teaching the G.R.E.A.T. Program
Submitted by Deputy Sheriff Tom Wilson
Hall County Sheriff's Office
Hall County, Georgia
My name is Tom Wilson, and I am a deputy sheriff with the Hall County Sheriff's Office in Hall County,
Georgia. I am assigned to West Hall Middle School as a school resource officer. In December of 2008, I
traveled to Orlando, Florida, for two weeks for the G.R.E.A.T. Officer Training. Upon completion of the
training and upon my return home, I was able to share what I learned with the school administrators, and
I started teaching the G.R.E.A.T. Program to the students.
I began teaching towards the end of January 2009. After my fourth week of teaching, I began to notice a positive change in attitude and demeanor with some of the students.
Before this training, I held the trust of a few of the students, but some of the students looked away when
I would try to make eye contact with them. Now that I am in the class teaching, it seems as though they see
me as more than just a law enforcement officer, but as a person, a friend, and someone they can talk to and
trust. Due to gang recruitment and activity, not all students view officers as someone they can relate to
and be comfortable around.
The G.R.E.A.T. Program is helping me to develop a positive relationship with the students, and it is giving them hope for a stronger future. These students are learning how to handle negative situations in their lives and how to move forward toward their goals without the worries of gangs, violence, and drugs. I look forward to teaching this Program, and the students frequently ask me when I will be in their classroom to teach the next lesson. I teach the sixth graders, and they look forward to my coming to their classroom and doing the "Life in the Middle” activity. The students also enjoy working on their G.R.E.A.T. class project, which helps in forming a stronger relationship among the students.
I encourage all school resource officers to get involved with the G.R.E.A.T. Program because every child we can change today makes for a stronger, brighter, and more positive tomorrow. I owe thanks to the G.R.E.A.T. Program for making this happen and a special thanks to the Hall County Sheriff's Office and West Hall Middle School administration for their continued support of this Program.
Deputy Tom Wilson