The Gift

As  parents and adults (35 and above for clarity), I believe we have an easy tendency to forget. I understand that’s a vague statement, but please give me a small sliver of your time and I will take you on a journey that I call, “The Gift”. When I say that parents and adults forget, I am referring to the idea that we too were once young adults. As young adults, we forget that we were once teenagers, and as teens we were once kids. The fact that the memory is absent from these necessary developments of our current state of being, creates the opportunity for a void to develop. That void creates lack of communication and that lack of communication creates the ultimate inability to properly connect and grow as a united front (especially within a family). The purpose of me saying this is because I want to take a moment and talk about an amazing human being who entered my life and blessed me with the opportunity to observe “The Gift”. This beautiful soul that I speak of is the wonderful Dr. Audrey Kteily PhD, LPC-S (known to many as Dr. K.).

Before I continue, allow me to identify the author of this message. My name is Tonard “Officer Tee” Warmsley, and I currently work as a police officer with the City of Coppell in Coppell, Texas. I’m a 16-year veteran of this police department and I have a combined total of 20 years of law enforcement experience. In addition, I am also a proud veteran of the United States Army (1999-2002). The message I provided is that of my independent experience and belief and in no way do I want to portray this writing as a reflected opinion of the City of Coppell or the Coppell Police Department.

In 2016, I joined the School Resource Officers (SRO’s) unit within the department and became the co-lead of the Teen Diversion Program (TDP) alongside my mentor/ co-worker, Officer Rachael Freeman. Freeman told me Dr. K. was one of the most amazing people she has ever met. She said she could go on and on about her, but she wanted me to experience it for myself and let me be the judge. Upon meeting her and speaking for a brief moment, I quickly became mesmerized by her humility, yet empowered by her confidence. Now of course, like any new friendship or relationship, we all get caught up in the beginning because of its newness. However, my message travels well beyond this stage. It was the latter parts of my personal observation of Dr. K. that describe the words within.

TDP was a program geared to help first time juvenile offenders (ages 10-17) of small criminal offenses, not enter the criminal system.Being SRO’s, Freeman and I wanted to establish a program that would really connect with parents and juveniles in a meaningful way. With this goal in mind, we reached out to local business owners and residential leaders within the community to aid our efforts. Dr. K. was the first to answer our call to serve as a featured guest speaker and remained with us until we had to shut it down due to Covid. Sorry, I forgot to mention this one important thing… Her commitment, as well as the other guest speakers, was done on a VOLUNTEER basis only. There was no promise or expectation of payment or any other underlined, agreed upon terms other than this was to help the juveniles and parents of our community who may be facing a current or ongoing struggle/ crisis. Despite her busy schedule she was always there, no excuses, no matter what.

During the course of the classes, Dr. K. educated everyone on several areas of life in which the information of those areas may not be well understood, such as the harmful effects of what drugs and alcohol does to the body. However, within these teachings, Dr. K. floored my heart as she displayed “The Gift” of connection. The way she captured a room is something that can only be fully understood by sight and not just sound. The ability to engage, be present and more importantly, remain present, is a “Gift” many wished they possessed. From a professional standpoint, there are certain expectations that exist based on the history of how things have been done. Nevertheless, there comes a time when we’re in dire need of a pioneer to re-image and redefine those expectations. To walk into a room full of what is said to be “juvenile delinquents” who’s under the single guidance and supervision of a family therapist could be considered a recipe for disaster. However, upon your entry, the “juvenile delinquents” are quietly sitting in their seats and are so engaged that they don’t even notice your presence. Meanwhile, they’re dialed in and in deep conversation with Dr. K. as she sits in a comfortable posture on top of the table with her legs criss-cross-applesauce (I always wanted to write that!). That’s a connection that many parents and teachers desperately wished they could achieve.

Dr. K’s “Gift” is not just in the form of establishing connections, but her “Gift” also arrives in the form of instilling others to embark on the necessity of purposeful comprehension. Sounds like a lot? Well it’s not. Matter of fact, let me break it down just like Dr. K. would. See if someone is purposeful, they show that they have a definite aim and a strong desire to achieve something. It’s intentional. While comprehension showcases the action or capability of understanding something. When these two elements are combined people have the ability to develop connections because there’s an individual desire to understand. The reason I started off stating that parents and adults forget is because our desire has shifted from striving to understand to the focus of needing and wanting to be understood. Our focus has changed from listening and learning to telling and completing expectations. Dr. K. educated parents and adults on the fact that we’ve been where they (juveniles) are and therefore we have a greater responsibility to understand them so we can help them navigate the next steps of their lives. Parents and adults have to meet the juveniles where they are because it’s unfair to ask them to attain what they’re incapable of achieving. As parents and adults, Dr. K. educated us on the reality that their brains aren’t fully developed and it’s imperative that we step in, listen and learn as much as possible so we can guide them accordingly. It is in this space where connections are developed. The effort of purposeful comprehension determines the strength of the connection.

I hope I didn’t take up too much of your time but to be honest I’m not sure enough can ever be said about “The Gift” that Dr. K. has. Thank you so much for all that you do and your willingness to be the steadfast, pioneer that you are. Before I go, I want to leave you with a quote from Steve Jobs that keeps me inspired:

“The ones who are CRAZY ENOUGH to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Based on my observations, I am beyond certain that she can and will. Thank you again Dr. K. and I love you forevermore!


Tonard “Officer Tee” Warmsley