Fifth-graders in McDowell County will never meet the man who was the inspiration for the TIM program, but they will know the lessons he worked to teach.

TIM stands for Teaching students lifesaving lessons, Improving their quality of life and Maintaining a safe learning environment. The program was originated in honor of the late Tim Duncan, a dedicated McDowell County law enforcement officer who lost his life in an off-duty accident in 2008. Duncan spent a good portion of his career teaching DARE in McDowell County Schools.

“He made a positive, lasting impact on children’s lives,” said former chief of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office and now Sheriff Ricky Buchanan in 2008 when the program started. “Tim was a dedicated husband, father and law enforcement officer and loved his ‘kids’ in the schools … and they loved him. He was very dedicated and passionate about his role in the schools and making a difference in many kids’ lives.”

To kick off the program, students are introduced to Duncan and his career by watching the TIM video which includes a message from his widow, Jamie Ball. Throughout the next several weeks, fifth-graders learn about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs, bullying and social media, gun safety and violent video games, wrapping up with a panel discussion with role models in the community.

Three high school students—Charlie Moore, Baylie Duckworth and Gage Honeycutt—plus P.G. principal Melissa Elliott, McDowell News reporter Virginia Rhodes, Chief Nathan Mace of the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Ricky Buchanan were chosen to talk to kids about their own life experiences and to answer any questions they had. One student asked Moore if she had ever been offered drugs or alcohol, and she told them about a recent interaction where she was invited to a party.

“I stood my ground and didn’t go because I have standards,” she said. “I have siblings that look up to me. If you know it’s bad, don’t do it.”

Duckworth and Honeycutt talked about having to turn down offers for vaping and chewing tobacco at the high school.

“Surround yourself with people who don’t do bad things,” said Duckworth.

One student asked Buchanan what is the purpose of the sheriff’s office and if his job was stressful.

“It’s stressful,” he said, “but I’m fortunate to have people that help me.”

The TIM program is taught to all elementary fifth-graders in McDowell, and is hoping to expand to the middle schools in the future.

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