Posted: Sunday, May 15, 2016

GCS Honors SROs during National Police Week

“Quack is one of those students who absolutely changed my life,” said Officer Ashley Wright.If you see a police officer today, take time to thank him or her. That’s the message from Greenville County Schools as we celebrate National Police Week by recognizing the School Resource Officers and Zoned Patrol Officers for the outstanding job they do to keep our schools safe.

GCS is fortunate to have many officers representing the Sheriff’s Department, the City of Greenville Police Department, and five municipal law enforcement agencies who not only maintain a safe and secure learning environment for students and faculty, but also work hard to build trusting relationships with students, parents and the community.

“One of the most important components in student learning is to provide an environment where all stakeholders - students, parents, teachers, and administrators - feel safe and secure,” said Superintendent Dr. W. Burke Royster. “We are extremely fortunate to have the direct support of seven different law enforcement agencies that assist us in creating and maintaining a safe school environment. We appreciate the efforts of law enforcement officers at the local, state, and federal levels and also the financial support, in addition to the funding from GCS, provided by those seven municipalities and the county.”

Greenville County Schools would like to thank the leadership of Chief Morton, Fountain Inn Police Department, Sheriff Loftis, Greenville County Sheriff’s Department, Chief Miller, Greenville City Police Department, Chief Reynolds, Greer Police Department, Chief Turner, Mauldin Police Department, Chief Grounsell,  Simpsonville Police Department, and Chief Crowe, Travelers Rest Police Department, for providing support, personnel, and services that allow students to focus on academic achievement in a safe, secure learning environment.

Officer Ashley Wright, Greer Police Department

Greer Middle School SRO

Students at Greer Middle School have nicknamed their SRO, Ashley Wright, “Officer Friendly.”Students at Greer Middle School have nicknamed their SRO “Officer Friendly.” Greer PD Officer Ashley Wright is an integral part of the day-to-day operations of the school, and students say she’s like a second mom who keeps them on track.

“It is important to me to greet every student by name when they come to school and give them positive affirmations to start their day,” she said. “I have one student in particular who, until meeting me, had never had a positive encounter with a police officer. I encouraged her to participate in the Youth Citizens Police Academy, a summer camp I developed with Officer Joel Galli at Riverside Middle, that teaches students the basic skills used in law enforcement,” she explained.

“Since participating in the program, this young lady’s grades have improved and she’s more focused at school. We spend at least an hour a week together, working on respect and anger management issues, and she’s grown to trust me and realizes that I’m here to help her.”

Officer Wright has built another strong relationship with a student nicknamed Quack. “I met Quack when he started sixth grade. He has an infectious personality and he’s never in trouble. He came to the camp last year and we became very close,” she explained. “Then he suffered a traumatic family event and had a really hard time dealing with it. I worked with him and helped him deal with the emotions and issues he was experiencing. I still visit him, even though he’s moved on to high school. Quack is one of those students who absolutely changed my life.”

Officer James Massey, Greenville County Sheriff’s Department

Blue Ridge Middle SRO

“Sometimes you have to step out of the role of officer and be the friend, the counselor, or the coach to help them understand that they need to get away from a situation for it to get better,” said Blue Ridge Middle SRO James Massey.“I want to work with students when they’re young enough to make the right decisions and are learning how to change their behaviors, rather than to expect them to change as they grow into adults,” said Blue Ridge Middle SRO James Massey.

“Sometimes you have to step out of the role of officer and be the friend, the counselor, or the coach to help them understand that they need to get away from a situation for it to get better. I try to make that difference in our young people’s lives, whether it is through coaching, at church, during community events, or at school.”

Officer Massey grew up in the community, playing football for the Fighting Tigers and now coaches football for his alma mater. He knows the importance of building students’ trust at an early age so it reaps big rewards when they get to middle school.

“I start every year at Mountain View Elementary so they can get to know me before they come here. Building that trust has helped me out on more than one occasion,” he said. “When they trust you, they will come forward and let you know when there are problems.”

Will Snipes, an English teacher at Blue Ridge Middle, said Officer Massey is community-minded and really cares about students. “When it’s time for awards day, he wants to know if there are students who are not getting recognized. He personally gives them awards for being good citizens and for standing up for others,” said Snipes.

Officer Robert Attaway, Greenville City Police Department

J. L. Mann High Academy

“I treat students just like they’re mine. We are all a big family here,” said Officer Robert Attaway, SRO at J. L. Mann High Academy.Officer Attaway has been with the Greenville City Police Department for 23 years. For the past seven years, he has served J. L. Mann High Academy as School Resource Officer. He said positive experiences with police officers while he was growing up influenced him to become a law enforcement officer. “They played basketball with us and wanted to be part of our lives,” he said.

 Attaway uses those experiences to shape the way he serves students at J. L. Mann. “I treat students just like they’re mine. We are all a big family here,” he said. “I get to know their parents and let students know that being an SRO is a lot more than trying to lock them up. We’re a community and treat each other with respect.”

Some teachers ask Officer Attaway to teach parts of the class related to the law. “I go into classrooms and explain laws to them,” he said. “They think that because they see something on TV or the internet, it’s OK. I am there to explain what they can do and can’t do, from a law enforcement perspective.”

Attaway is pleased that his reputation carries over to the community. “When I run into students at the grocery store, or see them in the neighborhood, they come up to me and talk because they already know me. It’s also a great opportunity to meet their parents in a positive environment.”

How You Can Show Your Support of Law Enforcement This Week

  • Wear blue clothing in support of law enforcement.
  • Send a card of support to your local police department or state agency.
  • Share a story about a positive law enforcement experience on social media.
  • Ask children in your community to write letters in support of law enforcement.
  • Organize an event or a rally in support of your law enforcement officers.
  • Most importantly, if you see a police officer, thank a police officer.

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