A Dayton Elementary School teacher's efforts to keep her fifth-grade students off of drugs has landed her a statewide honor.
Linda Peterson was chosen as the 2006-2007 D.A.R.E. Teacher of the Year, a statewide honor designed to honor teachers who participate in the D.A.R.E, or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, program.
She said that along with Lyon County Sheriff's D.A.R.E. Officer Bob Kahn, she tries to make sure her students understand the dangers of all kinds of drugs, from meth to inhalants, to alcohol and tobacco.
"We also talk about the difference between medicinal drugs you take for an illness versus street drugs," she said.
Peterson, who has taught for 13 years, seven in Lyon County, said kids are interested in the D.A.R.E. program.
"It's an important program and the kids really love it," she said.
Peterson said D.A.R.E. is essential because students are becoming exposed to drugs at an early age.
"I'd rather have them know about it rather than have them accidentally taking meth, with the strawberry meth and, I guess there's a chocolate one now," she said.
Peterson said she laminated pictures of strawberry meth and posted them in her class so students can identify them.
"It looks like packaged gelatin," she said. "They're not going to know the difference between the meth and strawberry gelatin. Drug dealers are trying to get kids younger and younger hooked."
Peterson was a military wife and mother, who didn't begin her career until after her children were grown and her husband, Earl, had retired from the service. Then she went back to school to earn her teaching credentials and began her second career.
Kahn, who nominated Peterson for the award, said he did so because she was an "outstanding educator, one who really cares."
"She just pushes them, stay away from drugs, be everything you can be," he said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 882-2111 ext. 351.