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Secretary's Message

August 1, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

Last week was a productive and busy time for DJJ staff, our providers, and our stakeholders, as we continued our work in bettering the lives of Florida’s children and families.  I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our agency staff, our colleagues, and the youth in our care.

As a reminder, don’t forget that I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you all do – on and off the clock – to enrich our communities. I know there is even more going on than what I report here, so I would like to encourage each of you to keep the weekly letter in mind and remember to share your good news. It’s easy – email news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon. 


Christina K. Daly

Juvenile Probation and Detention Officer Class Visits 

On Wednesday I made a trip out to the Florida Public Safety Institute in Midway to meet with the current juvenile probation officer and juvenile detention officer classes. I shared with all three classes the mission of our Department and the work we do in reducing juvenile delinquency and making our communities safer. I also spoke to them about the important role of direct care staff in achieving our mission and the opportunities they will have to help turn around the lives of troubled youth.

The JPO and JDO Academies are an intensive, three-week long training that is mandatory prior to entering the field. Upon graduation, JPOs will work in probation offices around the state while JDOs will supervise youth in detention centers as they wait for an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  

Certified Public Managers Graduation Ceremony

 I was honored to attend the Certified Public Managers Graduation at Florida State University along with Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, members of the DJJ Executive Leadership Team, members of DJJ staff, and most importantly, or DJJ CPM graduates. The Department celebrated the graduation of ten staff members including Lut Clarq, Sandi Coker, Cassandra Evans, Dodie Garye, Stephanie Barnes-Holmes, Stacey Kakarigi, Josh Kuch, Michell McCarthy, Garrett Tucker, and Elisa Watson.

The new certified public managers completed 32 days of classroom instruction, held in 8 four-day courses, over the last 18 months. Homework assignments and exams supplement the course content and require candidates to apply course concepts to themselves and to their agencies.

The certified public managers program is a nationally-recognized program for training and developing public managers and supervisors.  The primary goals are to professionalize public management and improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Florida has one of the largest, and most successful, CPM Programs in the country, with 5,000 graduates from more than 100 agencies. Florida's CPM Program is administered by the Florida Center for Public Management, which is part of the Askew School of Public Administration at Florida State University.

Please join me in commending the graduates on their hard work and congratulating them on their achievement!

State Advisory Group Quarterly Meeting

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group (SAG) held their quarterly meeting July 25-26 in Sarasota. SAG Chair Dwayne Maddron delivered opening comments. Marcus Smith, chief of policy development and planning, brought greetings from Assistant Secretary Alice Sims and encouraged SAG members to take advantage of the meeting time to collaborate on new initiatives to assist DJJ.

Subcommittee meetings were conducted for the Finance, Emerging Leaders, Grants & Contracts and Disproportionate Minority Contact Subcommittees. Yvonne Woodard, federal grants manager, provided updates on Federal sub-grants and Federal correspondence and compliance.

Presentations were delivered by SAG member Michael Long who discussed Sail Future, a boating program that provides sailing adventures for high-risk juvenile offenders. Long also took some SAG members on a brief sailing trip through the Sarasota waterways. SAG member Caroline Zucker also delivered a presentation on the Florida School Boards Association. Other presentations were delivered on Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the SunCoast, Mahogany Youth Corporation of Miami, and Ready for Life of Pinellas Park.

Topics discussed included cost analysis research, conference reports and current events.

JJSIP Update 

Recently in Circuit 19 (Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce), DJJ rolled out the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) through a series of three meetings.  Many thanks go to our hosts at the Children’s Services Council of St. Lucie County, the St. Lucie County Health Department, and the St. Lucie County Courthouse. 

Thank you to Circuit 19 Chief Probation Officer Wydee’a Wilson for organizing the three meetings and to featured speakers Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham (shown right, addressing the stakeholders), Assistant Secretary for Probation & Community Intervention Paul Hatcher, and Director of Research & Data Integrity Mark Greenwald (shown below, left, addressing staff and judiciary audiences).

After presenting the national perspective and research foundations of JJSIP, the speakers presented specifics about implementation in Florida and data relative to Circuit 19.  In total, more than 100 stakeholders, members of the judiciary, and DJJ staff members were educated about JJSIP through these interactive question and answer presentations.  Many thanks go to judges Gerald Bryant, Curtis Disque, Michael Heisey, Victoria Griffin, and Elizabeth Metzger, as well as Trial Court Administrator Tom Genung and members of the State’s Attorney’s and the Public Defender’s offices for their time and participation.

DJJ was selected as one of four states to participate in the JJSIP, a national initiative to reform the juvenile justice system by translating “what works” into everyday practice and policy.  Administered by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the JJSIP provides a framework for implementing best practices throughout the entire juvenile justice system.  To read more about JJSIP, click on the following link: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/research/latest-initiatives/juvenile-justice-system-improvement-project-(jjsip).

Florida Faith Symposium

Registration is now open for the 2016 Florida Faith Symposium!

The seventh annual Florida Faith Symposium will be held November 2-3, 2016, at the Wyndham Orlando Resort in Orlando. The Faith Symposium connects conference attendees to resources, best practices, and training to enhance faith and community-based programs that serve youth and struggling families.

This event is hosted by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, in partnership with the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council and other statewide partners. Throughout the conference there will be more than 35 educational sessions and exhibit booths.

You can register here to take advantage of the early bird special! 

Prevention Update

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson and Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson attended the “Our Children Our Impact,” community conversation hosted by Friends & Family United, Inc. on July 13 in Orlando. The Community Conversation was very informative and had presentations from the Orange County Drug Free Office, Wake Up Mentoring, Entrepreneur Road Trip for Youth, and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) Youth.

In addition to the presentations, the youth, adults, and stakeholders engaged in conversation where the youth shared their views on current events, issues at school and home, and how they are impacted by these things in their lives. The adults also shared their views and feelings as well and the event created a positive dialogue. Family and Friends United, Inc. honored every adult in attendance with an “MVP” pin to remind them that they are the Most Valuable Person in a child’s life, and the youth were provided with a “YOUth Matter” medal to remind them that they do matter as well.

Recent alumnae Tianna Quintero of the PACE Center for Girls of Polk County traveled to Washington, D.C. last month for the White House Summit on the United State of Women. Tianna was accompanied by PACE Polk’s Executive Director Xuchitl Coso. The event was attended by more than 5,000 leaders from across the county who are involved in advocacy and policy advancement related to women and girls.

Speakers included President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Warren Buffet and Oprah Winfrey. Plenary session included speakers and panels discussing topics such as Violence Against Women, Health and Wellness, and Economic Empowerment for Women on a national and global scale.

Quintero, who attended PACE Center for Girls Polk last year, and will be transitioning back to her school in the fall is emblematic of many PACE students who have overcome personal challenges. Coso invited Quintero to attend due to the teen’s personal leadership skills and her ability to represent the PACE mission and philosophy.

“PACE believes every girl deserves a life defined by responsibility, dignity, serenity and grace. I am inspired by the manner in which Tianna lives her life,” Coso said. “She’s overcome many issues but always worked hard to understand what she needed to do to accomplish her goals and get back on track. At PACE she found her voice and her strength and she has gained excellent coping skills to help her succeed!”

PACE Center for Girls was invited to bring several girls and staff to the conference as a result of receiving national recognition for success in effecting change in the lives of girls and young women at risk of entering the juvenile justice system. PACE CEO, Mary Marx, accepted the Inaugural “Accelerating Change Award” from the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

In the above photo: recent PACE Polk alumnae, Tianna Quintero.  

The PACE Center for Girls of Polk County also celebrated their academic and attendance gains for the 2015-16 school year. Last Fall, PACE Polk received a grant from Dollar General to start an Accelerated Reading program, which has paid off with high academic gains in reading for their girls. Twenty-five out of 48 girls improved their reading scores as per the last quarter testing.

In December, PACE Polk received a gift from the Barnett family to purchase software for math and science. Their students logged over 90,000 practice tests. As a result, 21 girls made amazing academic gains in math, and used the IXL software to improve their skills.

PACE Polk is also proud of their consistent attendance this past academic year. The attendance totals have averaged 82%-87%, which translates to improvement in academics as well.

Kudos to the wonderful teachers and counselors for their positive encouragement and support of their girls!

Juvenile Justice Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDO) who graduated Friday, July 29, 2016 from Broward College.  The detention officers will supervise youth in detention centers as they await for an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Kevin Housel, south regional director for Detention Services, for delivering the graduation address for the JDO graduation. Kudos to Learning Consultant Denise Cannon for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the regional juvenile detention centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

Top Row (Left to right):  Vasha Davis - Monroe, Linda Smith – Palm Beach, Kristie Pitts – Broward, Nicole Clarke – Palm Beach, Randy Maynes – Miami-Dade  

Middle Row: Jacoby Sessions – Miami-Dade, Cassandra Laurent - Broward, Michael Lee - Broward, Terrance Jones - Broward, Georgi Breedlove – Miami-Dade, Samuel Henley – Miami-Dade, Denise Cannon - Learning Consultant

Bottom Row: Howard Williams – Palm Beach, Eric Fu – Miami-Dade, Eddy Oscar – Miami-Dade, Carlo Mondesir - Broward, Johnny Hernandez – Miami-Dade, James Innocent – Miami-Dade, Scottie  McClary - Broward

Detention Update 

It is my great pleasure to announce that Major Regina Berry will serve as our new superintendent at the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

Major Berry came to the Department of Juvenile Justice in 2012 as a juvenile justice detention officer II at Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center.  She was promoted to juvenile justice officer supervisor in 2013.  In 2014, she was appointed as the facility training coordinator, receiving the Training Officer of the Year Award in 2015.  She was promoted to assistant detention center superintendent in 2015. Prior to serving at our Department, Major Berry served the state of Florida within the adult correctional system. She has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and is currently pursuing higher education to obtain a master degree in Public Administration. 

Please join me in congratulating and welcoming Major Berry as she embarks on her new and exciting opportunity at Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center! 

Pictured above: Chief Sheddrick pinning Major Berry with her clover pins before she addressed the proud facility staff. 

I am also pleased to share with you the following detention employees who were selected as employees of the month for the month of July. Each month the three statewide detention regions select three employees of the month for a total of nine. The winners are spotlighted by region below:

North Region

  • JDO Trina Decker, Marion RJDC- Decker is the glue that keeps the boards together at Marion Detention. She is a behind the scenes strength that keeps everything functioning as normal as possible. She assists all officers and staff with various needs and issues on a daily basis. She tracks several areas within the facility and keeps everyone informed of facility requirements.

  • JJDO II Brittany Johnson, Bay RJDC - Brittney began her career at DJJ having never worked with delinquent or at-risk youth.  She quickly developed an easy rapport with our youth and an ability to communicate very effectively with them.  All of her training is completed before requested; she is always seeking out opportunities to learn and be shown how to do something new. 

  • JJDO II Michelle Wooden, Marion RJDC- After being promoted to JJDO II three months ago, Michelle has shown remarkable leadership potential. She has assisted with training new employee's and has volunteered to work various shifts and hours to ensure adequate coverage within the facility. Her positive attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done is appreciated by all.

Central Region

  • JDOS Carla Craig-Wright, Pasco RJDC- Lieutenant Craig-Wright is an asset to the Pasco RJDC management team. She is very knowledgeable and informative. Lt. Craig-Wright was the facility training coordinator and during that time she was commended by regional personnel on her organization, tracking and training skills. Due to the FTC Program being implemented, I asked her to be our QI liaison. She is familiar with the FOPs and ensures that policies and procedures are being followed. Lt. Craig-Wright leads by example and holds her staff accountable for their actions.

  • AA Constance O’Brien, Brevard RJDC- Connie has an extraordinary ability to successfully coordinate the processes and workflow of the human resources department.  Connie acted as a champion to ensure that the services of the human resources department runs smoothly at the Center; she’s the grease for the wheels of detention success. Connie balances a full-time and demanding position and continues to exude excellence and acts as a positive role model here at the Brevard Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

  • JDO Amanda Parrish, Hillsborough West RJDC- Amanda recently took over the position of intake officer and has made the transition a seamless one. She rearranged her schedule to ensure that all shifts were trained and the correct placements were made to ensure that our intake and release ran smoothly without a glitch.  She took it upon herself to make training booklets for all areas of intake and release to ensure that we were able to cross train staff for this area.  She maintains communication with Administration but has completely reorganized and ensured that the intake/transportation department has run perfectly.

South Region

  • JDO Twanna White, Palm Beach RJDC- Twanna has recently transferred to A-shift to ensure the Center is staffed appropriately. She is always willing to come in on her off days to assist with transportation or working the mod. No matter where she is needed she works without complaining. She has developed her booking skills to the level of being A-shift main intake officer. Officer White is always on time for work and ready to face any challenges put before her whether she agrees with it or not – not to mention she has been assisting B-shift with staff coverage and evening transports.


  • JDOS Terrance Lopez, Monroe RJDC- Although the Monroe RJDC has not been fully operational due to a decrease in youth needing to be securely detained, they are responsible for coordinating and conducting transports for youth headed to court visits. Lieutenant Lopez has graciously taken care of the intake needs and transportation needs of Monroe. This involves 8 hour round trips to Miami RJDC and 5 hour roundtrips to pick up youth at Plantation Key Sheriff’s office.  He has often come in on his off days to cover some of these transports. In addition, he stays on top of the trainings. Understanding the size of our facility, we still have to accomplish the day-to-day operations at the detention center. 

  • AA Phillip Morehead, Collier RJDC- Mr. Morehead is a retired U.S. Marine and former firefighter. During the past month, he arrived to work early every single day to ensure that the CRJDC stayed ahead of the game with purchase orders (POs) for the upcoming fiscal year. He completed the CRJDC’s POs and had them approved well before the end of May. He did such a phenomenal job, that it was noticed by the South Region, and ultimately by the assistant secretary, who selected him to complete the POs for another facility. He completed all of that facility’s POs, as well.

The youth at the Brevard RJDC received a special visit from former NBA point guard Anthony Bowie. Bowie, a standout player from the University of Oklahoma, played for three NBA teams, most notably for the Orlando Magic from 1991-96 where he played with Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway during the greatest era in team history. Bowie shared his experiences of having to guard such NBA greats, such as Michael Jordan and Reggie Miller. Bowie spoke to the youth about his experiences of working hard and how it pays off. He also spoke about his life after the NBA, as he is currently a physical education coach with the Seminole County School System where he works with youth on a daily basis. Bowie also highlighted the importance of having good friends and surrounding yourself with good company. During that time, he mentioned his 30-year friendship with Brevard Superintendent Lawrence Palmer. 

The Manatee RJDC welcomed One Way Up Ministry Director Sheila Ray Robinson and her husband Tony Steptoe to the facility this month. Sheila is the daughter of former Grammy-Award winning artist Ray Charles. Sheila’s story began with 21 years of drug addiction which led to her losing custody of her five children and a stint in a federal prison. Shelia and Tony’s testimony was very powerful as they brought a dynamic message while sharing their personal journey through some of life’s toughest times. They tell their heart wrenching personal stories of how their individual lives spiraled down into drugs, abuse and eventually incarceration culminating in how "God reached down and saved them.”

Sheila and Tony have spoken at over 100 churches, 450 recovery groups and 150 prisons and juvenile facilities in the past couple of years as they have traveled from Maine to California. Sheila was recently appointed as the National Spokesperson for The Raye of Hope for Recovery Crusade.  It has a goal of raising awareness of the heroin epidemic spreading across the nation.  Their Crusade expects to travel to fifteen cities in the next 18 months to fulfill its mission. Both Charles and Steptoe have completed the Celebrate Recovery Step Study Program.

I’m pleased to share the following letter that was sent to Pinellas RJDC Superintendent Joseph Seeber regarding JJDO II’s Rosemary Reedy and Angela Sermon, JDOS Gary Bridges and nursing staff members LPNs Angel Cope and Ashley McKinley. The letter was sent by Michelle Petty from Camelot Community Care which is one of our stakeholders that works with the kids at Pinellas. It reads:

I want to take a moment to share with you what I saw today. I saw a group of people come together with kindness and compassion, and positive and inspiring words to support a youth who was really struggling this morning. This is the definition of teamwork and the epitome of excellent care for our youth.  I am proud to be a part of this team!  Even though we are all bogged down with paperwork, we jump and run to make sure our youth are ok.  

Go team! 

I will mention of this group was Sgt. Bridges. My admiration for him seems to increase all the time, which is hard to believe I could admire him anymore…because it is already a great deal.  Sgt. Bridges came to this youth’s aid and delivered a positive and motivating message to her. I will add that Angel and Ashley, Ms. Reedy and Ms. Sermon also pitched in and supported this youth. All these people routinely go the extra mile to support the youth and keep them safe, physically and emotionally. I know that these compassionate people are guided by mirroring the actions the 3 of you who also routinely go above and beyond, even to make the difference for just one youth.  But that is exactly how we make a difference in the world, one at a time. 

You all inspired me today, thank you, 


Probation Update

Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Sam Lyons and DJJ Education Specialist for the Northwest Region Ken Myers toured the Conservation Corp of the Forgotten Coast (CCFC) on June 26 in Apalachicola. CCFC is a comprehensive youth development program for young adults 18-25 years of age (veterans up to 29, and summer internships for ages beginning at 16 years old) which provides participants with job training, academic programming, leadership skills, and additional support through a strategy of service that conserves, protects and improves the environment, as well as community resilience. The group of young men seen left are local at-risk youth that are completing different natural conservation projects around the local community. 

Pictured left to right: Sam Lyons, Pam Jones (clinical social worker of Gulf Coast State College), Joe Taylor (Chairman of Franklin’s Promise Coalition) and Ken Myers

With the help of the Hartwell Foundation, five hardworking divers from the AMIkids program in Panama City Florida earned a trip to Pennekamp State Park to learn about Coral Reefs as a part of their summer school classes at the AMIkids Panama City Marine Institute (PCMI). The trip is sponsored by AMIkids and the Hartwell Foundation and is supported by local fund-raising. Over a dozen programs for at-risk teens gathered in Florida City, the last town before the causeway leading to the Florida Keys, for the annual President’s Dive Challenge, hosted by O.B. Stander, the president and CEO of the national not-for-profit, AMIkids, Inc.  At-risk teens came from as far away as the tribal reservations in New Mexico and the mountains of North Carolina to attend the week-long event which features three days of diving on the coral reefs off of Key Largo. PCMI has been training divers since 1974 when they first opened and started working with local at-risk teens. Over the years, the local divers trained at PCMI have participated in a number of environmental service projects such as fish and coral studies and underwater clean-ups. 

Probation staff in Circuit 6 held a retirement celebration for Administrative Assistant Victor Schultz from the Central Region Probation Office. Victor began his career at DJJ ten years ago at Faulkenberg before becoming the AA for the DJJ Central Region two years ago. Victor has worked diligently with the staff from all six circuits. He provides assistance and training in several areas, and we wish him nothing but the best as he begins his retirement.  Regional Director Cathy Lake presented Victor with a plaque in recognition and appreciation for his years of service to the Department.

Thank you Victor for your service to our state and I wish you the very best in your retirement! 

DJJ teamed up with the Department of Children and Families to provide a successful local training session for JPOs and child protective investigators (CPI) in Circuit 9. This two-day training session was held at the Valencia Community College Public Safety Institute. The intent of the training was to provide both JPOs and CPIs a broad overview of the services provided by each agency in an effort to increase knowledge and enhance service delivery. The training was highlighted by Juvenile Circuit Court Judge Daniel Dawson who took time from his docket to address these trainees and give them valuable advice while providing a few words of wisdom. My thanks to Assistant Chief Probation Officer Johnny Alderman who helped facilitate this training. 

Circuit 17 Court Unit Coordinator Janice Charlassier facilitated a tour for British college student Alexia Craig on July 22. Alexia is a criminal justice major at Appalachian State University. Janice took Alexia on a tour of the juvenile assessment center where she spent several hours meeting three juvenile court judges and observed their courtroom. That was followed by a tour of the AMIkids facility of Greater Fort Lauderdale. Alexia left feeling much more knowledgeable about the juvenile procedures here in America and was most impressed with all of the work DJJ does with troubled youth. 

Probation staff from Circuit 17 teamed up with the DJJ Faith Network to host the 2016 Family Conference on July 23 at the Church of God Christian Center in Fort Lauderdale. The conference was presided by Pastor Daniel Boyd and its theme was, “Moving Beyond Your Past into Your Future.”  The audience consisted of youth, families, law enforcement, community providers, and staff from several state and county agencies that work together to make a positive impact on the youth that we serve. DJJ staff spoke to the community on a wide range of topics including civil citation, child abuse, record expungement, racial & ethnic disparity, and community policing.

Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Sam Lyons and Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator Theda Roberts traveled to the Monticello Sheriff’s Office on July 25 for a meeting with Jefferson County Sheriff David Hobbs. The purpose of the trip was to provide data showing the positive effects of the implementation of civil citation statewide. Sam and Theda showed how Jefferson County could benefit from streamlining their process and Sheriff Hobbs seemed interested in what DJJ had to offer. 

Pictured from left to right: Sheriff David Hobbs, Lisa Sherry-Juvenile Services Supervisor at Disc Village, Theda Roberts and Sam Lyons.

Reform Specialist Vernolda Dilworth and SJPO Tammy Smith from Circuit 10 attended a public community forum on July 28 at Polk State College in Lakeland. The forum was sponsored by the Lakeland Ledger and was designed to prevent tension between the community and law enforcement due to the recent fatal police shootings of black men across the country and the assassinations of police officers. There were a mix of local law enforcement officials, a psychologist, and members of the community. The meeting was very successful in opening up dialogue and communication among law enforcement and the community in an effort to prevent more crime, and to keep our local communities safe and calm during these difficult times.

I am pleased to spotlight DJJ’s Circuit 17 Court Unit Coordinator Janice Charlassier whose dedication to the ReadingPals program was featured by the United Way of Broward County. ReadingPals is an early literacy initiative for children kindergarten through third grade. The program focuses on ensuring children have been exposed to the wonders of literature and are reading at grade level at the end of third grade.

Education Update

Recently, eight representatives from the Eckerd Challenge Youth Academy attended the 24th Annual Model Schools Conference in Orlando. Members of the team included representatives from the education and transition departments. 

The Model Schools Conference, sponsored by the International Center for Leadership in Education, provided an in-depth look at changing school culture to promote rigorous and relevant educational opportunities for all students.  The four-day seminar was packed with hundreds of concurrent inspirational, how to, immersion and innovation sessions. At the close of the conference, teams worked together to develop action plans to put in place at the school level.  This valuable opportunity was provided by Title I grant funding through Pinellas County Schools. 

Residential Update    

Ten residents at Brevard Group Treatment Home, a non-secure program for boys, ages 12 to 15, which is operated by Aspire Health Partners, participated in an on-site experiential ropes course.  This experience helps to foster team-building skills, create a positive culture, and assist with overcoming fears.  Director of Media Relations for Aspire Health Partners Todd Dixon led the ropes course. The ropes course experience will continue to operate for several sessions so that other boys also get the opportunity to participate.

Kudos to the Lake Academy staff who recently received a letter from a parent whose child currently resides at the program. Lake Academy is a non-secure residential commitment program for girls ages 12 to 19 in Tampa. In the letter, the parent commends Beverly Burnett and Sean McLawhorn at Lake Academy for their support and commitment to their child. An excerpt of the letter reads:

I am both a mom and a professional so I have both the experience in this matter, good judgment, and mostly my heart is in this. So are theirs. Please take a moment to acknowledge them both the people they are, and the job they do, going way beyond what a paycheck offers. S has made honest to goodness progress. Without them, this would not have been possible.

Ten students at Challenge Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Eckerd Kids, participated in a community service project at the Chinsegut Hill Retreat, a site that is mainly used as a venue for special events and retreats.  Brooksville Mayor Natalie Kahler asked the students if they would help clear shrubs, trees, and bushes surrounding two of the cabins on the property.  The project was scheduled for two days, but the residents collaborated, worked very hard, and ended up completing their community service project in just one day!  

The Residential Alternative for the Mentally Challenged (RAM-C) Program, a non-secure program for boys, ages 9 to 18, which is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc., participated in the Leon County Press the Chest Event, a community-wide Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training event that focused on the importance of providing the community with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to perform CPR.  After the event, the residents toured Florida State University and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University—where they spoke with various students and staff members of both universities to learn more about the college experience.  The trip was a part of the Jobs for Florida’s Graduate Program, a school-to-career program designed to help young people graduate and to assist them in building confidence to move onto gain employment or postsecondary education.

Youth J.Q. described his experience in the following note:

My name is J.Q. and I'm going to tell you about the time I did CPR / first aid.  Visiting FSU college and being able to leave campus to learn how to save a life was so much fun and very helpful for an emergency that can happen at any given place or time, using the dummy and watching actors. Shown above: roleplaying CPR was funny and entertaining that made me want to be a part of FSU college.  I never thought I would learn CPR in a program what a fluke!  If only you could see the sparkle in my eye when I walked into FSU!  Seeing and being around such a nice friendly crowd made the trip more fun.  I truly enjoyed my time learning this.  I have never got to go to actual colleges before this and now I got to go to two colleges in one week!  I hadn't thought that people like me go to college but I saw tons of people that look like me and I can really see myself going there now!

The residents of the RAM-C Program are continuing volunteer efforts that began in October with Habitat for Humanity.  The boys assisted with building the house, and now they are working on the landscaping and setting up the electricity.  This community service project was also a part of the Jobs for Florida’s Graduate Program

Youth P.S. commented on his experience volunteering with Habitat for Humanity:

I love working with Habitat for Humanity because I always wanted to learn how to build a house.  It was a great experience working with Mark and Devon.  They showed me how to make a good looking porch!  I had a real manly talk with Devon about the career he’s in and learned that he started at a young age.  I really liked that line of business he was in and actually thought it was suited for me.  I really believe that I could be focused on that line of work.  When I leave the program I want to work in construction.