Students at J. Wallace James Elementary School are leaving class more than ever to talk with their school resource officer, but it isn’t because they’re in trouble. It’s actually the opposite.
About 40 kindergarten through fifth grade boys are participating in a pilot program called WALLY.
“It stands for working on advising life lessons in our youth,” says Corporal Chris Anderson, the school resource officer for J. Wallace James and a mentor to the young boys. The program aims to teach young men things like respect, manners and February’s topic: sportsmanship.
Each month, the groups will meet with Corporal Anderson to chat while fostering a positive and comfortable relationship between young men and law enforcement, teaching police officers are friends.
“We shouldn’t have bad and negative interactions with kids at all, at any point in time,” says Anderson.
“So many little boys need a good model and need someone they can share things with and just feel at ease,” says the school’s principal Dana Schmersahl.
Just one month in, Corporal Anderson has taken all of the boys under his wing, fondly referring to them as his own and celebrating their growth in the classroom.
“It actually has been great. The school is a great family here, and I love it here. Since the program has started, a lot of my kids have changed their attitudes inside the classroom as well and gained respect,” says Anderson.
As a result, the school’s principal couldn’t be happier with the early results and the future of the WALLY program.
“We really think this program has a lot of potential, so we’re happy to be piloting it, and we’re hoping it gets picked up at other schools at some point,” says Schmersahl.