MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WATE) — A school resource officer in Hamblen County is making sure students who go out of their way to show a little extra kindness don’t go unnoticed.  

Deputy Tyler Tunnell at Alpha Elementary School is building relationships with students with his new Citizenship Award Program. Tunnell, or Officer Tunnel to his students, is more than just a School Resource Officer at Alpha Elementary, he’s a friend. 

When asked why he started the award program, Tunnell said, “Positive relationship with law enforcement obviously, that’s a huge thing. You know not everybody has a good thought process of law enforcement, and we’re always here to help.” 

He said at 5 years old, he knew he wanted to work in law enforcement because of an SRO who encouraged him.  

“Many years ago as a young kid, there was a gentleman by the name of Jim Shanks when I went to Rogersville City School in Rogersville, and he had a pretty big impact on my life,” Tunnell explained. “He was our SRO, as well as my football coach, and he just kind of took me under his wing and basically showed me the good side of law enforcement.” 

Tunnel added that now it’s his turn to make a difference which is why he created the award program for students who show kindness to others.  

“The things I typically look for are responsibility, acts of kindness, which our principal does an ‘Acts of Kindness’ thing here so it just kind of feeds off of that,” he said. “Just basically just being a good person.” 

The first two winners were 11-year-old Bennett Frazier and 9-year-old Caroline Bradley. 

When asked why he received the award, Frazier said, “I helped this girl. She didn’t have much food because they didn’t really have much money. So the first time I just decided to get a tray for her because she couldn’t get more food and then I made her a food bag.” 

“There was a student that didn’t have much and Bennett stepped in and made sure that student had what they needed,” said Tunnell.

When asked why he gave Caroline the second award, Tunnell said, “Caroline here, she is the most kind, generous, thoughtful little human being I’ve ever met. Anytime I’ve seen Caroline in the hallway, she’s waiving at you, she’s holding a door for you. Caroline is just Caroline.” 

“I guess because I was being kind and holding doors and helping people and stuff like that,” said Bradley.  

Both students said they knew that being kind was just the right thing to do. Bradley’s advice to others was, “to always be kind and to help people when they get hurt.” 

Frazier said, “I know Jesus likes when people are kind and all that stuff. So, it just came to my heart to be kind.” 

Tunnell added that it’s all about building relationships and good character.

“I absolutely hope that they carry it into middle school and high school and one day when they become adults I hope that they take the things that they learned from the award program and establish it somewhere else,” he said.

Both of these citizenship award winners have big plans.  

Frazier wants to be a pilot when he grows up and Bradley said she wants to be a teacher when she grows up because they make a difference in the world.