The school resource officer at Whale Branch Early College High School has been named the 2012 Eric Bamberg State School Resource Officer of the Year, and the head of the school’s guidance department also was recognized for her support and performance.
The South Carolina Association of School Resource Officers’ selection of Cpl. Daniel Allen, a deputy with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, marks the third time in the last four years that a local officer has won the statewide recognition. The award is named for a longtime school resource officer at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School.
The association also recognized Geraldine Henderson, chair of Whale Branch Early College High School’s guidance department, as its 2012 Educator of the Year for her support of the School Resource Officer program and her overall performance and dedication.
School resource officers, often referred to as SROs, are certified and sworn law enforcement officers assigned to full-time duty at a school. In addition to their law enforcement duties, however, SROs focus on student counseling, mentoring and proactive problem-solving.
Whale Branch High Principal Priscilla Drake praised Allen’s work at the school.
“He’s just super, a key member of our team,” Drake said. “He’s not a sit-in-the-office kind of person because he’s always on the move, always working on building personal relationships and trust with our students. They trust Cpl. Allen so much that they often take their concerns directly to him.”
Superintendent Valerie Truesdale noted that Allen’s selection means that all three of the county’s major law enforcement agencies have now been recognized for their partnerships with the school district. She added that Henderson’s recognition in the same award cycle is evidence of the district’s strong partnerships with law enforcement.
“These statewide honors are a tribute to the professionalism of our resource officers and a reflection of the quality of the SRO program in our schools,” Truesdale said. “Cpl. Allen and Ms. Henderson have been key contributors to the academic improvements and successes we’re seeing at Whale Branch Early College High.”
Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner, who endorsed Allen’s nomination for the statewide award, added his congratulations and noted that the corporal had also been recognized as 2012 Lowcountry Region School Resource Officer of the Year.
“We are extremely proud of the work that all our school resource officers do,” Tanner said, “and we are especially pleased with Corp. Allen’s regional and statewide recognition as School Resource Officer of the Year.”
Drake and Truesdale also praised the work of Henderson, who was a Marine drill instructor before she became an educator.
“She’s much more than a counselor, almost like a mom to our kids,” Drake said. “She makes sure that students — and their parents, too — know what it’s going to take to graduate from high school and make plans to succeed after high school.”
Truesdale said Henderson’s take-charge leadership at the school has been a key factor in the success of Whale Branch’s early college program, which last month graduated the school’s first students with both high school diplomas and two-year associate’s degrees from the Technical College of the Lowcountry.
“She never quits,” Truesdale said. “Her personal ‘ownership’ of students’ post-secondary plans and her hands-on approach to guiding students toward success after they leave Whale Branch are truly amazing.”