Program: Criminal Justice
A simple conversation with a sheriff's deputy 18 years ago in Wisconsin forged Theodore Darden's future.
"It had nothing to do with criminal justice," Darden explained. "But at the end of the discussion, he simply said he thought I would make a good officer."
That keen observation has provided Darden with wealth of knowledge and a satisfying career in criminal justice. He worked as a police officer and supervisor in three different agencies in Wisconsin for almost 15 years. He also worked for the Attorney General's Office in the Wisconsin Department of Justice as an education consultant for police training and curriculum development, training officer, and as a special advisor to the Attorney General on school safety.
Among his honors, Darden was named Wisconsin Police Officer of the Year in 1996.
But there was something about teaching that excited Darden.
"What greater reward can an individual have than influencing the minds of the next generation that will carry us through the 21st century," he said. "I see teaching as a commitment to the future and a conduit for the well-being of our communities and nation. I take my teaching very serious, especially because it is criminal justice."
Darden believes the next generation of criminal justice personnel needs to be more aware of the community around them and partner with their constituents to maintain a high standard of living.
"This can only occur when the proper curriculum is met with a passionate individual who can influence, spark, enlighten and challenge the next generation of learners and leaders who have a desire to serve and an understanding of their own capacity to do so," he said. "What I hope students take away from my classes is the knowledge that ignorance is curable through education and critical thinking and that each and every one of them is capable of changing the world simply by changing themselves.
"Any individual has the capability of changing the world given the opportunity. As a teacher, I can provide these opportunities on a daily basis to every individual that passes through my classrooms."