Jastal, a certified DARE instructor, takes over the position that was vacated by Jarrod Jarvis earlier this year. Jastal said Jarvis had been using the GREAT program (Gang Resistance Education and Training) to instruct eighth grade students about become responsible members of their communities by setting goals for themselves, resisting peer pressures, resolving conflicts and understanding how gangs impact their quality of their.
Jastal said he plans to implement the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program again next year, which also includes components on gangs, bullying and tagging.
"I will be attending updated DARE training next August, and they have added several new components to the program to address issues students are facing today," Jastal said. "There are also new laws to review, and we have to keep current on those changes."
Jastal will spend a portion of his summer developing an age-appropriate curriculum for Monett students that will bring awareness to some of the dangers they face on a daily basis.
"Every kid from about middle school on up has access to a computer or a cell phone," Jastal said. "This is a technology-driven environment. Along with that comes the danger of online predators, and we have several living in the area. I think making both the kids and their parents aware of these dangers is an important element to ensuring the safety of our kids."
Some of the programs Jastal will be working on include: traffic safety for students in preschool; Internet safety for elementary students; faculty and parental training about online dangers faced by students and children; impaired driving and substance abuse; abusive relationships; and other awareness training for high school students.
"If these kids take their computers home and visit unappropriate sites, our Internet technicians will know," Jastal said. "But that doesn't regulate their home computer usage, their smart phones or other electronic devices that they use daily."
Coming into the position at the end of a school year has given Jastal some time to discover what additional issues Monett students are facing and provide insights as to what awareness programs need to be implemented for the upcoming year.
"This is more than just being a presence at school," Jastal said of the resource officer's position. "This job doesn't end when classes do at the end of the year, either. I will continue to be available and interact with students throughout the summer. I'll also be visiting The Den and other kid-friendly environments."
|Jastal said it will take a year just to get many of the programs he plans to institute rolling.|
"This is just like coming into a new job," he said. "School administrators have refined my role as to where I am supposed to be and what my duties will encompass. Although I've been a school resource officer over at Aurora, this is like starting a new position.
|"My main focus is to develop a working relationship with the prosecuting attorney, juvenile department and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force, among others, so we are all on the same page," Jastal said. "The key is letting people know what dangers are out there.|
"I also want to have awareness trainings for Monett faculty and staff as well as students and their parents," Jastal said. "After all, this is all about keeping our children safe."