Local News

Students Get Extra Helping Hand

Posted March 20, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— For many children, family problems have a way of showing up in the classroom. But youngsters in Fayetteville are getting extra attention from a special source -- police officers.

As fourth-grader Aaron Miller will tell you candidly, as he shapes clay into a classroom project, last year he wasn't doing so well. He had discipline problems and was suspended several times.

Enter Investigator Hubert Peterkin. He is one of several officers who help give special attention and help to 56 children in the Fayetteville area.

The Family Intervention Team gives its young charges encouragement, smiles -- and sometimes hugs. Knowing that an officer -- who is now a friend -- will come by the classroom weekly to be a pal, helps students like Aaron stay on course.

Peterkin says what Aaron needed was someone outside the family to believe in him. As a positive role model, Peterkin can be counted on when Aaron feels he needs someone to talk to.

Aaron Miller details the problems he's had.

Last year, says his teacher, Alethia Weston, Aaron usually did not complete his homework or respond in class. She has witnessed a dramatic change in his initiative and in the results.

The Fayetteville police department would like to see the program expand. They are seeking a grant to do just that so more Aarons can bloom under some special attention.