School resource officer called ultimate role model

May. 15, 2014 @ 09:43 AM

School Resource Officer Jon Hawn tussled the furry mane of a stuffed lion on his desk.

“That is the name he comes with,” Hawn said. “Darren the lion. Darren is kind of like me. He’s getting thin on top.”

Joking, Hawn grinned before tugging a baseball cap back over Darren’s yellow ears and wild brown hair. He gave the lion a squeeze.

Hawn and sidekick Darren are the new faces in Sawmills Elementary School. As of January, Hawn became the full-time SRO for the school

“The kids actually look forward to seeing Darren more so than they look forward to see me, because when they see Darren, they know somebody in class gets to hang out with Darren when I’m in class. They’re very possessive of hanging onto Darren while I’m in class,” Hawn said.

Hawn provides an extra safety measure and a role model for the young students, Principal Lowell Rogers said.

“I think this is more of an investment where you’re going to see some return now, but you’re going to see more return later,” Rogers said. “The students have that relationship built up with the school resource officer for when they go to middle school, and they have a full-time school resource officer there as well. That officer will have that ability to keep that positive relationship going with them.”

Hawn said he has fallen in love with his job. Every day, he works traffic in the mornings and afternoons. He acts as a reading buddy and sits with the kids at lunch. He also teaches D.A.R.E. classes with Darren, which includes what is safe to eat, always have a buddy when in a public space, and signs of bullying.

“He’s rarely in his office,” Lowell said. “He’s always out and about.”

Hawn came to Caldwell County five years ago and worked as a bailiff in the courthouse. When he took D.A.R.E. training last fall, he realized that he would prefer to work in a school full-time and interact with the students. Until January, he visited Baton Elementary School on Friday afternoons.

“I enjoyed it so much (that) when this opportunity came around to get into the school resource officer program . . . it was just something that was going to give me the opportunity to be more interactive with the kids and get to bring Darren and that message to the class,” Hawn said.

Thanks to grant and town funding, an SRO position was created for the elementary school. The Town of Sawmills, the Caldwell County Board of Education and the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office partnered to make the position possible.

As Hawn made his way through the lunchroom one day recently, he was greeted by students left and right, some pressing on his body armor and others just reaching out for a high five.

“I do believe it was very fortunate that I came out here. It was a wonderful opportunity for me,” Hawn said.