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Press Release Detail

DJJ Awards Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year


May 18, 2015                                                                     


Heather DiGiacomo


(850) 717-2710

DJJ Awards Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year

Orlando, Fla. - The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) honored Cheryl Smith with the 2013-2014 Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award during a ceremony at the 2015 Adolescent Conference. 

Ms. Smith is a teacher at the Orange Youth Academy (OYA) where for the past two years she has taught information technology and career education to prepare youth that will be transitioning back into their community after completion of their program. 

“Ms. Smith is committed to ensuring that her students enter into their communities ready and eager to find employment in Florida’s growing job market” said DJJ Secretary Christina K. Daly, who presented Ms. Smith with the Teacher of the Year award. “The passion and dedication that she has for teaching is helping the youth at OYA to achieve goals they never thought were possible.” 

One of Ms. Smith’s major accomplishments at OYA is ensuring that each student creates an employment portfolio prior to their departure. The portfolio includes a cover sheet, cover letter, resume, and the certifications they have earned while at the facility.  The types of certifications a student can earn include the Florida Ready to Work Certification, the state of Florida’s workforce education and economic development credentialing program that tests and scores job skills and work habits, as well as the CIW Internet Business Associate Certification and Safeway Food Handler Certification.

Ms. Smith’s hard work stems from a deeply held belief that all children have the right to a quality education. She states “All youths, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and capabilities should have the opportunity to learn from professional, well-informed teachers who are sophisticated and knowledgeable, both in their area of expertise and life.”

DJJ partnered with the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to select the finalists for the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award.  Ms. Smith was chosen as one of three finalists out of many juvenile justice educators throughout the state of Florida.  Each finalist receives a medal and monetary award from the Florida Association of Alternative School Education. 

The award was presented at the 20th annual Adolescent Conference Breaking Boundaries: Uniting for Youth, Families and Communities hosted by the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA).