WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - If you ask West Columbia Police Officer India Taylor if she ever expected to enjoy being a school resource officer, she'll tell you it was an unexpected blessing.
Officer Taylor has been the SRO for Saluda River Academy for a year now. She's been an officer for 15 total years. In her time at Saluda River Academy, she's noticed some things about the young men roaming the halls.
Whether it's a disciplinary issue, grades, behavioral – or any other problem in the book – inherent with that, is almost always a lack of self-confidence.
She's setting out to change that.
"Once they're in that suit and tie, they're gonna sit a certain way, they're going to talk a certain way, and they're gonna walk a certain way, and they're gonna act a certain way," Taylor said. "And that's what I want from these boys."
Officer Taylor is starting a club called "The Bobcat Boys." The kids were recommended by teachers and staff to take part in the mentoring and life coaching program. The group is diverse – it represents boys from almost every grade.
"It started out with an individual case where there was an individual kid who I wanted to help," she said.
The idea for one child quickly spun out into 15 kids. The program had its inaugural meeting Monday.
"I told them that when they walk out of their classrooms... they're going to be one way, but when they walk back in - just the response from their classmates is going to be tremendous," Taylor said.
For the first week, Taylor brought in Carlos Archie, the owner of Head Turners Barber and Beauty Salon on Broad River Road in Columbia. Archie, who is also Taylor's barber, is always doing his job while wearing a suit and tie.
Taylor thought there would not be a more appropriate person to represent a positive male role model than Archie.
"Just that one shirt and tie - $12 at Walmart," said Taylor. "When you look good you feel good. So that was one of the things I wanted to start changing. Just change the way he looks, so that way he can naturally gain some confidence without moving a muscle."
The group will have mentoring sessions every Monday – where the boys will wear their shirt and tie to school. Taylor hopes this inspires them to "dress for the job they want."
Saluda River Academy is in Lexington School District Two.