GREENFIELD — A Greenfield educator will be recognized by D.A.R.E. Indiana next week for her contributions to the popular youth program.
Ashley Arnold, a fifth-grade science and social studies teacher at Greenfield Intermediate School, will receive the state drug-free program’s highest honor for a teacher – 2014 Educator of the Year.
Each year, D.A.R.E. officers from across the state are invited to submit recommen-dations for the award.
Greenfield police Cpl. Steve McCarley felt so strongly about Arnold’s qualifications that he’s submitted her name for consideration two years running.
“Second time’s a charm,” he said.
The D.A.R.E. program, which runs for 10 weeks and teaches elementary school children about the dangers of drugs and the importance of good decision-making, has been in place in Greenfield for at least 20 years, McCarley said. He’s been the D.A.R.E. officer since 2007, and Arnold is one teacher he said he’s enjoyed working with every year.
D.A.R.E. Indiana calls for nominees of those who “have distinguished themselves in their dedication to D.A.R.E. Their efforts must demonstrate a commitment to D.A.R.E. beyond the high standards evidenced by others involved in the program,” according to the organization’s website.
Arnold’s support for the D.A.R.E. curriculum, which is taught to 400 Greenfield-Central students each year, certainly fit the bill, McCarley said.
“She’s just an exceptional teacher,” he said. “I thought she was worthy of being nominated.”
Greenfield Intermediate School Principal Jim Bever described Arnold as an outstanding teacher who leads by example.
“Much of the D.A.R.E. curriculum is based on good decision-making,” Bever wrote in an email to the Daily Reporter. “Mrs. Arnold provides our students with an exemplary model. …She can often be observed answering students’ questions with her own thought-provoking questions intended to help them build their own thinking and reasoning skills.”
Arnold said the award was a great way to finish out her time as a fifth-grade teacher. Having recently completed her master’s degree in educational technology, she is transitioning this coming school year into the position of technology coach for teachers at the junior high and high school.
“It’s a huge honor. It’s a really nice way to kind of capstone on the end of the classroom portion of my education career,” she said.
Arnold said the D.A.R.E. program has always been popular with students, not only because of the curriculum but because of the opportunity it affords to meet a police officer.
“They get to know him, and I think sometimes that’s even more important than the curriculum itself, … having that presence in the building and having a rapport with that officer,” she said.
Greenfield Police Department Chief John Jester said the partnership between schools and police departments to put on the D.A.R.E. program has created lifelong relationships between young people and law enforcement.
“They spend a semester with these guys, and they know them more as teacher Steve McCarley than Officer Steve McCarley,” he said.
Arnold will be recognized next week at the Indiana D.A.R.E. annual conference in Indianapolis.