Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Sheriff Makes a Difference by Being a 'Big'

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Sheriff Makes a Difference by Being a 'Big'

Article excerpt

Shawnee County Sheriff Herman Jones just wants to make a difference in one kid's life.

"I don't have to save the world, just one child at a time," he said.

Jones said he believes he is making a difference in the life of 11-year-old Te'Rahn Simms, an Eisenhower Middle School sixth-grader who has been his "little brother" since August 2011 as part of the school-based Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

When Te'Rahn was attending Highland Park Central Elementary, he and Jones would visit about once a week in the school's library with other "bigs" and "littles" who were matched up through the program.

While in elementary school, the "bigs" emphasize reading, and sometimes the matches play games together, Jones said. Now that Te'Rahn is in middle school, they are visiting weekly during lunch time to talk about school, their lives and whatever else the two feel like sharing that day.

"I try to stay as consistent as possible," he said. "They (children) need that consistency in their lives."

While Jones said his focus was on Te'Rahn, he knew when he walked into Highland Park Central, he was seen as a law enforcement officer and an officer of color. He is glad his visits to Te'Rahn have had a residual positive impact on his schoolmates, especially when he gets hugs and high-fives. Jones also indirectly helped a female student whom he knew was struggling.

"I'd go and check on her," he said. "I saw the improvement. I was told it made a difference."

Until earlier this year, Darin Whitegon was the match support specialist for Jones and Te'Rahn and saw firsthand the changes in Te'Rahn's life because of his relationship with Jones.

"He's made a huge difference in Te'Rahn's life, educationally and behavior wise," he said.

Whitegon said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas started the school-based match program in the late 1990s. Currently, 17 schools in Shawnee County participate in the program. …

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