Fourth-grade student Emma Maxwell likes reading a book about stuffed dog, Pancake, describing how COVID affected her classes last year at Lascassas Elementary School.
“It helped me understand all these protocols and how it helped keep us safe from COVID,” Emma said. “The dog helped me understand it better.”
The Old English bulldog Pancake is the sidekick of School Resource Officer Chad Dodson who used Pancake to encourage the students when they began to wear masks at school. Pancake and Chad, who wore masks, would wave to the students when they arrived at the cafeteria for lunch.
Dodson wrote a book entitled “Pancake and Friends” with assistance from fellow SRO Kerry Nelson and illustrated by last year’s 4th-grade student, Gabrielle Baron with guidance from art teacher Bonni Smith.
The school’s PTO and Dodson created a community outreach program called Lascassas Cares. Dodson is partnering with the PTO to sell the Pancake books with proceeds used to help families in need supply birthday gifts for their children.
Books are $11 each. People who wish to buy a book may order it by Thursday or send a donation to the LES PTO, in care of Lascassas Elementary School, 6300 Lascassas Pike, Lascassas, TN, 37085, attention Brooke Henson. People may donate at the same address anytime.
Dodson wanted the book to cover the fears and challenges students had with COVID.
“I also wanted this book to tell how we can change the world around us by helping people, don’t judge people before you know them and not all police officers are scary,” said Dodson, who has been the Lascassas SRO five years.
“These are some things that we definitely need to be talking about with kids,” Dodson said. “I wanted them to see that they can make a difference, we all can, one person at a time.”
Principal Randy Uptain said the SROs do community outreach for their students.
“The book is really more representative of the quality of service we get from SROs in Rutherford County Schools,” Uptain said. “It’s impressive the time and investment Officer Chad took in it.”
Using the book as a fund-raiser shows Dodson’s deep reach in the Lascassas community, the principal said. SROs have an impact lasting for years.
“It’s huge,” Uptain said of the SRO’s impacts. “They are overworked, under-funded and under-appreciated.”
Assistant Principal Tina Maxwell is Emma’s mother.
Elementary school children want to feel safe, she said. Dodson’s book allows the children to understand the protocols and takes away their anxiety.
“It’s very relatable and something they can connect to and not be anxious,” Maxwell said.
Emma said the students love and care about Pancake.
“I think it’s great we have him here,” Emma said with a smile.