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Weaverville SRO Comes Home
Weaverville SRO Comes Home
Posted on 02/27/2019
A collage showing Officer Reggie Ray interacting with students at Weaverville Primary School and Elementary School.By Tim Reaves
BCS Communications Department

When Officer Reggie Ray looked around a classroom full of parents during spring kindergarten tours at Weaverville Primary School, he saw lots of familiar faces.

“Some of them went to school with my son,” he laughed. “One of the teachers here, her grandfather went to school with me!”

In his decades-long career, Officer Ray has been many places – from Macedonia to Afghanistan to Korea – and worn many hats – football and wrestling coach, police trainer, and school resource officer (SRO) for multiple agencies at several schools in Buncombe County. Now he’s back in his hometown of Weaverville, focusing on safety and mentorship at the primary and elementary schools.

"We've already made some improvements to campus security based on observations that he has made," said WPS Principal Stephen Chandler. "You know you have the right person as your SRO when he wants to be out in the school, talking with students, and helping however he can."

The Town of Weaverville graciously funded a new position at Weaverville Police Department (WPD) specifically for an SRO at the two community schools. BCS also added six SROs from the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office this year. When Officer Ray found out about the WPD position, he jumped at the opportunity to be back home, closer to his family and community.

“I’ve been all over the world, and I came home,” he said. “I think that says a lot.”

The most important thing to me is to practice what you preach. Kids are very aware. If you’re honest with them, they’ll respond. That makes you dependable.”‘PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH’

Officer Ray never planned to work in schools when he joined the force, but after he got his first SRO assignment in the ’90s, he realized the job is as rewarding as it is rigorous.

SROs who work at Buncombe County Schools must have all the training of a normal officer, but also must complete specialized SRO training from the state, and they are encouraged to attend continuing education courses throughout their careers.

“Learning about that world and how to connect to students, it’s just incredible,” he said. “The most important thing to me is to practice what you preach. Kids are very aware. If you’re honest with them, they’ll respond. That makes you dependable.”

The school resource officer is there to protect children, but also to mentor them as a positive influence. Ray encourages students to “be the better you,” work together, and be a leader.

“Reggie’s lifelong experiences have given him a gift of equal treatment,” said WPD Lt. Somer Oberlin. “Every kid loves him regardless of their background, and he can span cultural divides thanks to years of practice.”

Weaverville Elementary School Principal Heidi Allison said she’s proud to have a Weaverville native as her SRO – someone local who became successful and came back home.

“Officer Ray is making connections with the students,” she said. “He’s learning their names, playing with them at recess, eating with them at lunch, opening car doors for their parents, and developing lifetime relationships with the students. We’re thankful for his leadership.”

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin, shanon.martin@bcsemail.org, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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