NEW PALESTINE — Kristie Satterfield decorates her Brandywine Elementary School classroom with pictures of police officers — friends, past and present.
She often catches her fourth-graders peering up in wonder at these blue-clad men and women, and she waits for the kids to question why the images are there, opening the door to a conversation about DARE.
The state’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education, better known as DARE, program is honoring Satterfield as the 2016 DARE Indiana Educator of the Year.
The Greenfield resident has spent years instructing police officers how to teach kids about saying no to drugs, developing healthy habits and steering clear of bad influences. The photographs in her classroom are of officers who sat through her training sessions, learning the best ways to make their drug-free messages stick in youngsters’ minds.
DARE, a worldwide initiative to teach to children about good decision-making, puts trained police officers in kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms across the United States and in 52 other countries to talk about drugs, violence, bullying, internet safety and a host of other topics.
Satterfield works as the education adviser for the state’s DARE training team, a position she’s held since 2011. She helps a group of experts train new DARE officers, offering insight on childhood development, classroom control and different teaching styles, officials said.
Satterfield spent 11 years admiring the officers who came into her classroom to facilitate the DARE program. She saw joining the state’s training team as an opportunity to further educate kids and work alongside the officers she had come to respect.
“It was a big step for me since I always worked with children in the classroom and not adults,” she said. “… I knew this was my chance to help.”
Hancock County Sheriff’s Sgt. Christine Rapp said Satterfield’s classroom was one of the first she visited when she became the sheriff’s department’s DARE officer more than a decade ago.
Rapp approached Satterfield about joining the state’s training team because she recognized the passion Satterfield has for the DARE program. Rapp nominated Satterfield for the 2016 educator award.
Satterfield is always eager to participate in classroom discussions about drug-free lifestyles and isn’t afraid to share her personal experiences with peer pressure, Rapp said.
That openness makes students more receptive of the DARE lessons because they realize the program is based on real-life situations, and they have happened to people they look up to, Rapp said.
Students need to hear messages of drug-free lifestyles from all the adults in their life, Satterfield said, and she makes that expectation clear to her students. She hopes to encourage her students to make good decisions as they face challenges outside of the classroom.
“I let them know that they will have to make choices in the future that will affect not only themselves but also their family and their community,” Satterfield said.
Michael F. Ward, executive director of DARE Indiana, called Satterfield’s passion for the program contagious. Relating messages to kids starts with getting DARE officers enthused about the material they’ll be teaching, and that starts with people like Satterfield, he said.
“Kristie encourages the DARE officer candidates to want to learn, do their best and succeed,” he said.