Sgt. Medford,
I know you are probably very busy but I hope you will take a few minutes and allow me to share a few thoughts with you:

Hopefully you remember me from the most recent DOT class in the great state of Virginia that began just after Thanksgiving. That was probably the most challenging two weeks of my life (47 years). Not just the school itself but being away from my family for such an extended time (12 days). It was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. People have asked me how the school was. They say – “I hear it is hard”. My response is this. It is not hard. There is nothing hard about it, but it is challenging. It will test you but it will also help you as a person if you approach it the right way. That being said, it was during our round table discussion that I became a bit emotional when it was my turn to speak. I have reflected on that since I have begun to teach my elementary D.A.R.E. classes “keepin’ it REAL”. How appropriate. Little did I know during that round table I was keepin’ it REAL. I was allowing myself to reflect on what the DOT did for me. It truly helped me as a person. You and the mentors goals are to provide the tools to officers so they can get into the classrooms and teach this wonderful program to our future generation. I want you to know that you all not only did that for me but you helped me learn so much about myself. Who knew that the information you provide for us to teach elementary and middle school students can help us in our own lives? Who knew it could help me grow as an individual and a member of society? Who knew it could help me be a better husband and even better father? I can never repay each and every one of you for not only the tools you provided me to teach D.A.R.E. but whether you know it or not, the tools to succeed in life and in my career. I have no doubt I have the best job in the world today. The Burlington, NC police department is made up of 130 sworn police officers and I have the best job of any of them.

I began teaching my classes last week and what a wonderful experience. For this spring semester I have a total of 14 different classes in five different elementary school with over 300 students. Starting in the fall with the new school year, I will then be responsible for 11 elementary schools and approximately 35 classes and nearly 800 students. So one would think – What an opportunity to have such an influence on so many young people. Yes, that is true but let me tell you something that you probably as D.A.R.E. officers already know. They have even a bigger impact on me. The things I learn from them along with the tools and knowledge I learned from each of you in DOT have taught me so much already. I have such a new perspective on life itself and what is important and what is trivial. I have already had students approach me in the public while I am off duty and say hello. I have already had students tell me – thank you and how much they appreciate me taking time with them and giving them attention. It is obvious these kids need that attention and wow, what a feeling. AWESOME!!!

I am sorry if I have rambled but I wanted to just give a sincere THANK YOU!!!

I do not have the contact information for the educators and mentors from that DOT class so PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE forward this e-mail to them so they can know how much I appreciate what they have done for me. My mentor Mike especially, but all the mentors, especially Ana and also Bonnie. Whether they know it or not I felt a particular bond to them and their kind words helped me more than they will ever know. Don’t forget Rob – The guy is a nut (In a good way) but he is so great at what he does and he is a tremendous ambassador to the D.A.R.E. program. Sgt. Medford – you truly put together an amazing team and once I am ready to take the next step in my D.A.R.E. career perhaps I can have the same influence on other potential D.A.R.E. Officers as you all had on me. Maybe if I am fortunate enough I can work with some of those great people in your crew.

I have attached a photo of my “New Ride” that allows me to represent D.A.R.E. in style. I believe Rob may have already seen this but I thought I would share with the rest. I am proud to represent D.A.R.E. so I wanted to share. Thanks Again and Gold Bless!!!

D.A.R.E. Officer Mike Paschal