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      Mich. State Police school program

      It's not every day that you have a cop teaching your class at school.

      Students at Rapid River, Big Bay, and Mid-Peninsula Schools are learning lessons from a new teacher, Michigan State Police Trooper Dale Hongisto.

      He's the T.E.A.M.--teaching, educating, and mentoring--officer. His curriculum teaches the importance of things like Internet safety and how to deal with bullying.

      â??The kids love having me there,â?? says Trooper Hongisto. â??I think it's just a nice little break in the day. You show up and you're in full uniform. The younger kids especially like that kind of stuff."

      Trooper Dale has become a common sight to see in the halls of Mid-Pen School. He's usually surrounded by his many fans, like those in Mrs. Petersonâ??s first grade class. But the messages he teaches are just as important as the time he spends mentoring these young minds.

      â??He teaches us about not touching guns, not touching poisons, and he gives us cop badge stickers," explains first grader Bradly VanDamme.

      Samantha Peterson says it's a treat for her students to learn from this veteran cop.

      â??Anyway that you can get them to learn, like bringing someone in from a job like a trooper who adapts to their interests in the classroom, really helps their learning," says first grade teacher, Samantha Peterson.

      Trooper Dale began his school visits in early November. His presence is also a reminder that these kids have a mentor and a protector.

      â??In light of the school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut a couple months ago, it's all come at the right time," Hongisto says.

      So what's next for Trooper Dale in his new role? He says he'd like to branch out into schools in Menominee County because that's also his post's area, thanks to the recent reorganization. In fact, Hongisto says he enjoys his teaching role so much that he's hoping to make it more full-time instead of 30 to 40 percent of the time.