Students at Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Program, hosted by Wor-Wic Community College celebrated their D.A.R.E. graduations in November culminating a 10 lesson program that the students with special needs successfully completed in the course of the semester. Sgt Staley, from Salisbury University Police Department, and Lt. Scott Carew, from Princess Anne Police Department, have been teaching students on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for more than 15 years.

Sgt Staley explained that the Wor-Wic Community College hosts the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation program for their area, which encompasses three counties worth of students with special needs. Sgt. Staley continued to report that, “…this was easily one of the best DARE classes I have EVER taught.” Lt. Scott Carew agrees that their class was “top notch”, and was one of the “most rewarding DARE classes that they have taught together”.

“The students were excited to learn, paid attention the entire class, participated frequently, and did their best at every task. The stories and personal experiences they shared in class were genuine and poignant. They asked questions about what we were learning and how it related to things in their own lives. Our small group of 6 had quite a sense of humor; during group work, our kids came up with some choices and options that we had never heard before in all our years of teaching!” stated Sgt. Staley Lt. Carew added that the class average score for the Pretest was 57%, and the Posttest average score was 87%.

Children in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms throughout the country today face a multitude of high-risk circumstances including the temptation to use drugs and alcohol, violence, bullying, and internet safety, not to mention the fear of school violence.

The D.A.R.E. program teaches students decision-making skills that equip them to lead safe and healthy lives. Lessons include the dangers of drug abuse, how to resist and refuse peer pressure, and how to take a stand against bullying. The D.A.R.E. program is designed to boost students’ social skills, enhance self-esteem, and provide tools to help them make responsible decisions.

In talking about delivering the Elementary School program to special needs students, Sgt. Staley stated, “I was apprehensive about delivering the [Elementary School] curriculum there because the students were in high school. Some [students] had difficulties with speech and writing and I was unsure about the best way to adjust my delivery of the material for their needs. This would be a very different environment than I was used to, but the Elementary Core Curriculum reminds us of how taking a risk can be worthwhile…”

By Michael Casamento, Maryland D.A.R.E. Coordinator
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