GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – A Greene County Sheriff’s deputy received statewide recognition for his role in educating local students.

Deputy Billy Walters received the Tennessee Instructor of the Year award for excelling in educating students in the Law Enforcement Against Drugs & Violence (LEAD) program.

LEAD is a nationwide nonprofit that works with communities to help students understand the dangers of drugs and violence.

“It just helps the kids know that whatever kind of life they’ve had, there’s something better for them if they choose the right path,” Walters said.

Deputy Walters is one of 15 officers with the Greene County Sheriff’s Office that are teaching the LEAD program to students in the county. He said that the subject matter in the course shows that drugs and alcohol shouldn’t be the norm.

He said that access to drugs for youth has increased over the years, and vapes are becoming more popular for kids, as well. Walters said this class is important because it shows the negative side effects of those choices and how to actively make better ones.

“They learn what you should do growing up, decision making, goal setting and reaching those goals,” Walters said.

South Greene Middle School student Alexys Bovino-Knapp is currently taking the LEAD class. It’s a class she said she values. She said it’s important to learn the negative impacts of drugs.

“Doing something can affect your life and how you live and how long you live,” Bovino-Knapp said.

SGMS student Cortez Perez has already taken the class and said that he’s thankful for Deputy Walters. He said that Walters makes a positive impact in the classroom.

“He’s very outgoing and will talk to you any time you need,” Perez said. “He’s not just an SRO, he cares about you as an individual.”