Students benefit from attention of city's school resource officer
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Michael Hudson is modest about the role he plays in the lives of Hartselle High School's students.
"I work with 30 officers and over 200 teachers and school personnel throughout Hartselle who do a lot better job than me," Hudson said.
"They deserve more recognition than I ever will because I all do is hang out with the kids."
Hudson is currently serving in his fourth year as Hartselle High's school resource officer, a job that requires much more than hanging out with the school's 870 students.
Hudson has many duties, including: Operation Prom Night, Hartselle Junior High School Junior Police Academy, Hartselle Explorer Post advisor, Too Good for Drugs and Violence courses at Crestline Elementary and Hartselle High, Red Ribbon Week for Hartselle City Schools, classroom instruction on an as-need basis for law related issues, police related services, lunchroom and hallway patrol, student dispute mediation, teacher in-service, reviews school emergency plans, S.A.D.D. sponsor, contributes a monthly article to the school's newspaper, bicycle safety courses at Hartselle's elementary schools, hosts school Parent's Night discussions, handles truancy issues, assists with the driver's education program, Boy Scout Bicycle Rodeo, and security for home and away high school football and basketball games and the annual homecoming parade.
And during the month of July, the only month Hudson isn't working with students, he patrols downtown Hartselle on bike and logs about 20 miles per day.
"It's the best of both worlds," Hudson admitted. "I work with great people on both sides–the mayor, city council, police department, school board, central office, and the schools. All of them honestly care about the community and the kids. God has blessed me with a wonderful place to work."
In his spare time, Hudson coaches the HHS boys' and girls' tennis teams with his wife, Regina, a Spanish teacher at HHS.
"I wanted the opportunity to get to know the kids I don't see otherwise," Hudson said. "I just enjoy being with kids."
He especially enjoys being with his stepchildren, Makayla, 9, and Noah, 8.
"I help out with Noah's baseball games, too" Hudson said. "I have a super family. My wife knows and understands that even though I'm off on New Year's Eve, I'm going to go to work. I love to work New Year's because I love to get a drunk off the roads."
Before becoming a school resource officer, Hudson served 7 1/2 years with the Morgan County Sheriff's Department and taught D.A.R.E. classes in county schools. His parents, James and Pat Hudson, have devoted their lives to public service as well. James has served the Morgan County Sheriff's Department for 27 years and Pat is the emergency director at Decatur General Hospital.
"My dad raised me up to believe not everyone deserves to go to jail," Hudson recalled. "He told me to go meet people, to get out into the community, and that's what I do. I know I fall way short of the mark, but my dad's my hero.
"That's who I've always wanted to be like."
HHS Principal Jerry Reeves believes Hudson hasn't fallen short of the mark when it comes to helping others.
"Officer Hudson is a very dedicated employee," Reeves explained. "He is extremely loyal, works well with everyone, and is such an asset to the entire school system. I just can't put into words all of the positive things he does. He is a friend and an authority figure to the students, and they respond well to that."
Hudson believes it's the program that the kids respond to, not just him.
"They've got to have somebody," Hudson said. "But I really believe in the school officer program because it's different than putting someone in jail as a police officer and being done with them. This gives instant feedback because you work continuously with the kids and get to watch them mature."
And watching the HHS students grow has been the most rewarding experience of Hudson's job thus far.
"I know their names, who they're dating, what they drive, and what they eat for lunch. I know Chris Wiley will eat three of whatever their serving for lunch today. I've been with this year's seniors all four years of high school. I just feel like they're mine."