Deputy Jaime Welborn gets an early-morning hug on the first day of school at Union Grove Elementary. 

Deputies Jaime Welborn and Dallas Hicks are not new to the job of School Resource Officer.

Welborn served as an SRO at Statesville Middle and Hicks spent a few years in the same job at West Iredell Middle and West Iredell High schools.

Still, they are embracing the new challenges and joys that come with being SROs at the elementary level. SROs are a new thing in Iredell County, and thus far with two days of school under their belts, putting deputies in the elementary school is a hit.

“It’s been super positive,” Welborn said. She is the SRO for Harmony and Union Grove elementary schools.

Hicks, assigned to Shepherd and Third Creek Elementary schools, agreed. “It’s been great,” he said.

Iredell Sheriff Darren Campbell said that has been his take on putting SROs at the elementary schools throughout the county.

“We’ve had an outpouring of support on Facebook and emails. People said they are happy to see the SROs in the elementary schools,” he said.

Welborn and Hicks said the presence of the SROs in the lower grades is a comfort for many parents and school staff members.

Having a deputy on campus means a zero response time in the event of an emergency, they both said.

“No matter how fast you can get there,” Campbell said, having that deputy on campus will make a difference. “It will help mitigate anything that’s happening,” he said.

But that’s not the only positive for placing deputies on campuses with younger children, Hicks and Welborn said.

Both said this will allow them to develop positive relationships with the children at a young age.

“I love being in the elementary schools,” Welborn said.

 Hicks was equally enthusiastic about his new assignment. “I love it. It’s really cool,” he said.

Both said they’ve rotated between their two schools in the opening days. Hicks and Welborn said they’ve been at one school in the morning, greeting children and parents in the car-rider line and reversing that in the afternoon.

Welborn said she’s gotten the chance to spend time with the kindergarteners in the classroom and to get to know her new students at lunch and throughout the day.

“I’m developing a relationship with them,” she said.

Hicks said he’s also enjoying the chance to work with a younger group of students, something he didn’t think would be a big deal when he first got the assignment. “But it is different. The kids are different. At this age, they’re really vulnerable and cannot protect themselves,” he said.

Spending the day with these young students, Hicks said, will hopefully pay dividends down the road.

“I hope that someday they’ll think Deputy Hicks told us about this and they’ll know if they need us they can call us,” he said. “I may not ever know it, but I’d like to think I’m making a difference.”

Campbell said that ideally he’d like to have SROS in every elementary school but by having they serve two schools, it’s a step in the right direction.

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