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Secretary's Message

December 16, 2011

Wansley Walters

Dear DJJ Employees:

With the holidays right around the corner, please remember that many of the youth we supervise won’t be able to spend them at home with friends and family. A little thoughtfulness and sensitivity go a long way this time of year. Thank you for caring.

CIVIL CITATION: I am pleased to announce the appointment of Denise Manning as DJJ’s statewide civil citation coordinator. This new position is vital to our efforts to reform the juvenile justice system by giving first-time misdemeanor offenders the opportunity to participate in intervention services at the earliest stage of delinquency. In this way, we can help prevent them for further involvement in the system. In her role as statewide coordinator, Denise is responsible for building partnerships with DJJ providers and other community stakeholders to enhance pre-existing civil citation programs and to promote and expand the civil citation process statewide. She is assigned to the Probation and Community Intervention Office. Earlier this year, Denise was profiled in Tallahassee Woman magazine. Click here to read the profile.

GRADUATION: Today I was honored to speak at a graduation ceremony in Tallahassee for DJJ officers going to work in our Residential and Detention facilities. I am deeply proud of our employees who work daily and directly with the youth in our care. Graduating today were: Donald Benner, Dale PeBond, Ricky Crews, Thomas Jenson and Arthur MacMaster (all assigned to Pensacola Boys Base); Matthew Coleman and Isiah Hayes (both assigned to Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center); Alison Flynn and Larry Hicks (both assigned to Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center); and Tonya King and Larrick Webb (both assigned to Falkenburg Juvenile Correctional Facility); and Robert Griggs (Duval Halfway House).

BACK TO SCHOOL: Staff at the Hillsborough Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Tampa this week started handing out back-to-school backpacks to youth released from the facility. Members of the Criminal Justice Club at Southwest Florida College worked with JDC Superintendent Adonis Miles and staff to collect calculators, notebooks, pens, pencils, paper, etc. for the backpacks. They were distributed to the youth with words of encouragement to continue their education. Thanks to Superintendent Miles and Detention staff for caring about the future of our young people.

TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Speaking of school, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) sponsors the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year program to honor outstanding teachers in DJJ education programs. A call for nominations is sent to program and school district contacts at juvenile justice facilities throughout the state. Representatives from FDOE, DJJ, school districts, community members and other stakeholders evaluate the nominee applications and select one winner from each of the regions and the statewide honoree is selected from the regional winners. Last month, Dennis Miller, who teaches career skills to youth at Riverside Academy in Tampa, was honored as DJJ’s Teacher of the Year. “When a student leaves our program and presents me with a Certificate of Appreciation for ‘teaching me business skills’ or ‘helping me learn life skills that will benefit me in the real world’ there is no finer reward,” said Dennis. “It’s why I’m proud to be a teacher and it’s why I’m proud to be a part of the DJJ program.” Dennis, on behalf of all of us at DJJ, thank you so very much for your exceptional personal commitment to the youth in our care. I also salute the many fine teachers serving in the 129 DJJ educational programs throughout Florida.

Please accept my best wishes for the holidays.

Wansley Walters

PS: Please send any noteworthy or newsworthy items for consideration in my weekly letter to Communications Director C. J. Drake at cj.drake@djj.state.fl.us or call 850.921.5905. Submissions are considered on a space-available basis and may be edited for clarity and length. Thank you for your cooperation.