WESTMINSTER - As the county's drug prevention coordinator a few years ago, Joanne Hayes saw a real need for a similar position in the Carroll school system.
The district, she believed, needed someone to coordinate the many community and school drug education and prevention programs that had evolved since the nation declared war on drugs.
"A lot of ideas make sense," said Hayes, the mother of three adult children. "But not many are carried out."
The idea of a coordinator in the schools, however, has been carried out.
With money from a federal Drug Free Schools grant, Carroll hired Hayes last summer to be its substance abuse prevention school/community coordinator.
The lofty title means she's been "dancing pretty fast to keep up with all (the programs)." But, Hayes noted, "You need them all."
The programs include drug prevention and education clubs at all levels, student assistant teams to help "dysfunctional students" and the community college's drug institute, which trains teachers in drug education and prevention. Those educators then train other teachers and parents.
Marjorie R. Lohnes, Carroll's drug free schools program director, said Hayes has effectively linked the schools and the community.
"Programs were in existence, but I had so many duties I couldn't give them the kind of attention they needed," said Lohnes, who is Carroll's supervisor of home economics and health. "We needed the closer contact with teachers and students."
Because the school system did not have central office space for Hayes, she works out of Junction Inc. across from the Board of Education office.
That initial inconvenience has become a convenience.
"The advantage has been a close relationship with those prevention people," Lohnes said. "She's right there in the building with them, but is still close enough to the board office so that she can go back and forth easily."
Hayes, a former program administrator for the Carroll County Office of Tourism, said one of the highlights the past year was helping train 55 students and 15 advisers to form Students Helping Others and Understanding Themselves, or SHOUT.
The middle school club is similar to the elementary-level Just Say No and the high school level Students Helping Other People or SHOP clubs. Those groups also serve as community service clubs.
"Kids were very enthusiastic about the program," she said.
"These groups reinforce what students learn in the schools' drug and alcohol curriculum."
Both Lohnes and Hayes believe the district's drug education and prevention programs and activities are making an impact, though there are no statistics to prove it.
"I think Joanne has really made quite a difference," Lohnes said. "She's been extremely effective in getting programs started and monitoring programs and making suggestions. She is able to get out and work with student assistant teams and clubs, and be a real presence out there. People know she's there."
Hayes doesn't plan to rest on any laurels, though.
One of her projects for the up-coming school year is to educate parents about drug and alcohol abuse and parenting techniques to prevent such problems through a parent newsletter.
"We do need to give parents as much support as we can," said Hayes. "We hope to provide enough information in the newsletter to spark their interest."