A new face will be watching over the students of Tullahoma High School this year, according to school officials.
Three-year Tullahoma Police Department (TPD) Officer Willie Young has taken over as the School Resource Officer (SRO) for the district, according to THS Principal Kathy Rose.
Young succeeds former SRO Joe Brown, who served the district for a decade prior to making a return to patrol duties for the TPD.
According to Young, taking over as SRO is only a natural progression from how he operates as an officer.
Having the “ability to change lives and make an impact on someone’s life” is important to Young, who frequently visits young children around town and makes friends with them.
“I would go to our apartment complexes and…hand our stickers, shake hands with kids and their parents,” he said.
Most of the stickers he gives out come out of his own paycheck as well, he said.
“I go to some of the local stores and I buy various stickers that would appeal to boys or girls,” said Young.
“When this job came open it was just a natural switch to come on into the school,” he said.
“It’s just a different hat. I have many of them, and this is one of the hats that I wear,” he added.
Young is also a veteran youth pastor in his church community at Blessed Hope Pentecostal Church, and said that helping children grow is “something I’ve always wanted to do.”
“It’s what I’ve always done—investing in our young people.”
Having a presence in the community is important to Young, and being able to have a more personal impact on the lives of Tullahoma students is a positive step in Young’s career.
“This role puts me right out here, elbow-to-elbow and shoulder-to-shoulder with our young people and being able to make a difference in their life,” he said.
“Our younger people need to know that we’re here to help, (that) we’re not here as a threat; we’re not here to harm—we’re here to help.”
Taking the position is also a bit of a homecoming for Young, who is a lifelong resident of Tullahoma and a 1993 THS graduate.
Young said that while he is stepping into a new position, he is receiving a wealth of assistance from Brown, who has “been there as a mentor” to him throughout the transition.
Speaking to The News during the THS Project Initiation last week, Young said that Brown had “been with me the last two days to show me the ropes, to show me what’s expected, what I need to do, what roles I need to fill here and some of the community programs that we’ll be doing.”
Even as Young brings his own flair to the position, he said he will keep in constant contact with Brown to go over things as needed.
“There’s going to be a lot of things that I’ll need to know, and he’s made himself available for me at any time,” said Young.
For the most part, however, Young said that being the SRO is mostly a “learn-as-you-go” job, but he’s up to the challenge.
Despite taking care of Tullahoma’s students, Young said that he will not be giving up his own personal community outreach.
During the summer breaks, Young will be out patrolling the streets of the city to ensure all of Tullahoma is safe and secure.
“When we have our summer breaks I want to go back out in the community and continue doing what I was doing—continue patrolling and continue to go out and make contact with our children,” he said.
“That’s just part of who I am.”
Erin McCullough may be reached by email at email@example.com.