by Abigail Gallagher, Community Educator (CAPE)
In 2018, the Council on Addiction, Prevention, and Education, Inc. (CAPE) was awarded a grant by the Foundation for Community Health (FCH) to introduce community prevention education and recovery services to the Eastern Dutchess, Route 22 corridor. The Eastern Dutchess Community Educator, Abigail Gallagher, has now been serving the area since October, teaching an evidence-based drug and violence prevention curriculum, Too Good for Drugs, Too Good for Violence to late elementary and middle school students at Webutuck and Pine Plains Districts. See our interview below to learn more about Abbey’s work in our area.
What is your role as the Eastern Dutchess Community Prevention Educator?
Abbey Gallagher: As the Eastern Dutchess Community Prevention Educator, my grant funds my work in both the Webutuck and Pine Plains school districts to deliver a drug and violence prevention curriculum to their students.
What is the curriculum you teach?
AG: The Mendez Foundation has created the Too Good for Drugs, Too Good for Violence program, which consists of 15 lessons focused on increasing youth protective factors and decreasing youth risk factors related to substance use and violence. The first five lessons focus on improving students’ social & emotional skills, including goal-setting, decision-making, proper management of emotions, and positive communication. The second five weeks focus on drug education, with each lesson focusing on the health and social risks of a particular substance. We discuss alcohol, tobacco & nicotine, prescription & over-the-counter medication, and marijuana. The last five weeks focus on social & emotional skills in group settings (our anti-violence unit), which develops useful conflict resolution techniques, anger management skills, and bully response strategies.
Whom do you teach?
AG: This year, at Webutuck District, I’ve taught the 5th, 6th, and 7th-grade students. At Pine Plains, I’ve taught the 5th-grade students.
What is your favorite part of community education?
AG: Getting to know my students, undeniably. My students are bright, funny, and caring kids, and I genuinely enjoy getting to teach them skills that they can take with them throughout the rest of their academic careers and beyond.
What do you hope your students will take away from being part of your class?
AG: My goal in teaching this prevention curriculum is to give students’ the skills and information necessary to make the best decisions for their futures. I hope that after taking my class when students enter into adolescence and if offered a substance, they will think twice about trying it. Abbey has finished teaching 5th-grade students at Pine Plains but looks forward to attending their Moving Up ceremony in June. She’s finished teaching the 7th graders at Webutuck and is excited to finish the year with the 5th and 6th graders.