WCPSS launches LEADER program to replace longstanding DARE
Posted October 20, 2015
Updated October 21, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — The Wake County Public School System launched a new program for its fifth graders Tuesday that focuses on the many complex challenges young people face, according to officials.
School staff members and the Raleigh Police Department co-developed the program LEADER (Learning to Earn and Demonstrate Exemplary Respect) to replace DARE in all 44 Raleigh elementary schools.
Like DARE, a program offered in Wake County since the 1990s, LEADER addresses drugs and alcohol, but also goes beyond those issues to tackle topics such as bullying, peer pressure, family relationships, decision making and goal setting.
"The idea of LEADER is you're teaching kids about making good choices in all situations," Brian Glendenning, one of the architects of LEADER, said in a statement.
Raleigh Police Officer Vincent Doxbeck spent time teaching at Stough Elementary on Tuesday.
"So again, when it come to that kind of stuff, name calling, teasing and taunting, that can cause a lot of damage to someone, so we would definitely consider that bullying," Doxbeck told students.
Angelina Goussakov, 10, said bullying is a big issue for students.
"Sometimes you get picked on a lot of times just based on what you wear and how you look," she said.
Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown said she hopes this program will have an impact on young students.
"Our kids live such complex lives," she said. "We can make an impact in their lives to continue to keep them in school, but to give them some kind of a healthy balance."
Dr. James Merrill, superintendent of Wake County Schools, said he considers the program to be a "beautiful liaison" between police and the school system.
"I want to be a better citizen and help make the environment better for everyone," Goussakov said.
For now, LEADER courses will be only taught in Raleigh elementary schools, but officers believe their model will ultimately be adopted into other Wake County schools.