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AU News

Command College Graduate Named Upstate, State School Resources Officer of the Year

July 19, 2023
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The South Carolina Association of School Resource Officers recognized Tracy Grate as School Resource Officer of the Year for the Upstate and also School Resource Officer of the Year for all of South Carolina. Grate is pictured at left with Capt. Robert Rivas of the Williamston Police Department.

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To be effective as a school resource officer (SRO), it helps to have a big heart and a servant attitude. 

The South Carolina Association of School Resource Officers recognized those qualities in Officer Tracy Grate, a graduate of the Command College of the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration. Grate was honored as School Resource Officer of the Year for Upstate South Carolina, then was named School Resource Officer of the Year for all of South Carolina. 

“I was quite surprised to receive the honor for the Upstate and SRO of the Year and then, as State SRO of the Year and I was quite shocked, to be honest,” said Grate, who is starting his second year as a school resource officer at Palmetto High School in Williamston, South Carolina. Overall, Grate has spent five years in law enforcement, having worked also at the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office and the Seneca Police Department.

Speaking for Palmetto High School’s administration, Assistant Principal William Jones commented that since Grate came to them as an SRO in the fall of 2022, he has become an integral part of and an asset to the entire Palmetto community. 

“Most importantly, Officer Grate has gone to extensive lengths to establish a positive rapport with all students; likewise, he has made tremendous efforts to build and maintain a healthy working relationship with all PHS faculty and staff. In addition, Officer Grate always displays a positive disposition when approached with daily activities and school situations. Furthermore, Officer Grate continuously demonstrates a passion for the success of student learning by engaging in academics, whether through teaching a lesson or expressing concern to students regarding their academic progress,” Jones said.” Palmetto High School Administration feels blessed to have Officer Grate as our school resource officer and is eager to see his future growth as a citizen and role model in today’s society as he continues to positively impact the lives of today’s youth.”

“I was absolutely thrilled to learn of Tracy Grate’s receipt of the SRO of the Year award. From his first day at our agency he has been one of the most energized officers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. There are many things you can give an officer to make them successful, including ability and opportunity; however, Tracy naturally possesses the one thing none of us can give him and that willingness which comes from his heart,” said Kevin Marsee, Williamston Chief of Police. “The SRO of the year award is one of many honors that I foresee Tracy receiving in his career, as he is a rising star and will go far.”

Grate feels that God placed it on his heart to be a servant leader, and sees his role as that of a law enforcement officer, an educator and a mentor who is there to counsel students.

“This past year has been a hard school year for the Palmetto community and the Williamston community. We had three students lose their lives… At the same time, I know why God placed me there at Palmetto High School to serve as an SRO. And it was more evident this year than anything.”

But with the challenges also come the joys as Grate looks to make a positive impact on young lives, interacting with students over lunch in the cafeteria or other places on campus. He says that in a world where the media can be harsh on those in the law enforcement profession, he finds that students appreciate most when he’s “being real” with them and they are able to talk openly with him about various life issues.

“Most of them come from diverse backgrounds where mom is raising a child or dad is raising a child or grandparents are raising the child, and so it just brings that uniqueness that I can as a positive role model be to someone’s life, essentially, and also be an inspiration to lead others to Christ,” Grate said.

Grate enrolled in the Anderson University master’s program in Criminal Justice after hearing about it from law enforcement colleagues. 

“Being a law enforcement officer who has a bachelor’s degree, I thought this would be a great opportunity to pursue my master’s degree. At the same time, the administrative personnel or their professors there at AU were completely understanding in terms of my work schedule, being on the 12 hour shift rotation,” said Grate.

Of his Anderson University program, Grate commented that much of what he’s learned about developmental stages in students has helped him, especially as he speaks to parents, and that his professors speak from a wealth of experience in criminal justice. 

Grate continued, “It was very beneficial from Dr. (Michelle) Doscher’s class and Dr. (Howard) Murphy’s class on strategic and tactical planning and all the other professors at AU that I have used and implemented at my school to make it a safer place for all students and faculty and staff.”

He feels that law enforcement needs good servant leaders who embody a servant attitude and can build a foundation of trust with the community and law enforcement.

“In my role as SRO I always tried to bridge that gap with the younger generation,” Grate said. “SROs are a best kept secret in law enforcement, just for the simple fact that we interact with the community on a daily basis with people’s kids going to school every day… It’s more of that personal-based relationship.”

More information about the Anderson University School of Public Service and Administration can be found online.


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