CEEAS Salutes Educators Making a Difference in Juvenile Justice Facilities
As we travel and work with teachers all around the country, we meet dedicated educators who work in tough, tough conditions and manage day-to-day and year-to-year to uphold high standards, meet students where they are, and ensure that even in the most dire correctional settings, students’ education comes first. Although poor teacher quality is oft cited as one of the primary reasons why so many schools in juvenile justice facilities fail to meet the needs of incarcerated students, we are pleased to devote this newsletter to highlighting a number of outstanding educators and share some of our plans for supporting teachers during the school year.
Winners of the Third Annual Lighting the Fire Teacher and Principal of the Year Awards
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – W.B. Yeats
CEEAS is thrilled to recognize Samantha Goldsmith (Indiana) and Paulette Koss (Los Angeles County) as our 2015 CEEAS Teacher and Principal of the Year. Samantha and Paulette are just the sort of adults we want leading the way in schools in juvenile justice facilities. They bring youth-centered mindsets and a commitment to supporting students’ academic and social-emotional growth during the time students are in their care, no matter how brief that time may be.
Samantha Goldsmith is a teacher at Promise Junior/Senior High in Indiana at the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility in Indiana. She has held her students to high expectations and helped them meet those expectations by making learning relevant, engaging, and individualized. She has challenged her peers to modify traditional curriculum frameworks to make them work for a highly transient student population. She has also been an advocate for meaningful school-wide change: she has led the charge for increased technology access and facility improvements. The state education director tells us, “I wish we could clone her so she could be part of the faculties of each of our schools!”
Paulette Koss is the principal at Road to Success Academy at Camp Scott & Camp Scudder, two adjoining girls’ facilities in Los Angeles County, California. Paulette’s biggest success has been to nurture an atmosphere where teachers, secure care and treatment staff all work together in service of young people in their care. Her schools are healthy, student-focused places where children learn by asking probing questions, delving into research and presenting their work. In addition to her terrific work as principal, Paulette recently completed her dissertation, Teachers’ Perspectives of the Effects of Project-Based Learning on the Academic Performance, Socialization Skills, and Self-Concepts of Incarcerated Juveniles. The work is academic study of the work she knows intimately as the principal of the first certified Road to Success Academy.
We only select one winning teacher and one school leader each year but we believe that there are many more excellent educators working in juvenile justice facilities. So today we also are also awarding Highest Honors to teachers Jessica Dixon (Utah) and Sarah Moilanen (Massachusetts) and school counselor Jennifer Matson (Indiana). Our Honorable Mention teachers are Amanda DeHart (Indiana), Christopher DeHart (Indiana), Gary Abrams (Massachusetts), and Zoila Gallegos (Los Angeles County, California).
If you are interested in learning more about our annual Lighting the Fire Teacher and School Leader awards, feel free to email Hailly Korman.
CEEAS Selects Forty-Two Teacher Innovation Fellows, Gearing Up for Tech U
“By becoming a Teacher Innovation Fellow I believe I can do that—reinvent education not only in my classroom but also in my building.” Daniel Naymik, Ohio
Excitement is in the air as we count down the last few weeks before we bring forty-two Teacher Innovation Fellows and their state administrative teams together for a week-long blended learning ‘boot camp’ that we are calling Tech U. The participants come from twenty schools located in juvenile justice facilities from all over the country: Massachusetts, South Carolina, Kentucky, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Washington. To help train the incoming Fellows, we selected three former Innovation Fellows to serve in our inaugural Ambassador program. The Ambassadors will lead sessions at Tech U and provide a support for a cohort of Fellows throughout the school year.
During the first three days of Tech U, the Innovation Fellows will explore what it takes to become an instructional technology designer. Teachers will be exposed to a variety of technology tools and resources, which will serve as the framework for ongoing innovation in their classrooms and their schools. During the last two days of Tech U, administrators, technology leaders, and secure care representatives will join the Innovation Fellows. By bringing these teams together, we hope to create momentum to change those policies and day-to-day practices that can stymie innovation and impede education reform in juvenile facilities. At CEEAS, we believe that combining the power of the Internet and blended learning with individuals fully committed to doing what’s best for children can lead to transformation in juvenile justice facilities. That is our goal for Tech U and our year-round blended learning initiative, Unjammed 2.0.
If you would like to learn more about our blended learning initiative, Unjammed 2.0, or our Teacher Innovation Fellows, feel free to reach out to Kat Crawford or Ashley Flores. You can also follow us on Twitter @SecondChanceEDU. We will be hosting a live Twitter chat from Tech U on July 29th at 7pm (ET) using #jjedtech.
Teachers Take Words Unlocked Beyond the Classroom and the Facility Walls
In May we announced that over 1,300 students from 90 juvenile justice facilities around the country had submitted poems though our Words Unlocked poetry initiative. And shortly thereafter, we announced the winners. Later this summer, we will publish the 2015 Words Unlocked Anthology, an online iBook that will feature over 100 poems from this year’s competition.
What we didn’t do was share just how hard so many educators worked to make Words Unlocked come alive in their classroom and beyond.
In Springfield, Massachusetts, teams of teachers, administrators, and clinical staff hosted a family poetry slam. They invited family members of students from three facilities to come together to celebrate as students performed their poems and had dinner—something that had never been done before.
Down in Florida, a teacher took this even one step further. First, she invited a local poet to come to the facility to host an onsite poetry slam for the students. The poet was so impressed that she told the students they should compete in the upcoming district-wide poetry slam. The teacher got permission to take the students offsite to compete, under tight security. One of those students earned fourth place in the district-wide competition, and received “the loudest crowd support and a big confidence boost.”
In another facility in Florida, the principal and lead English teacher formed an after-school poetry club that met every day for three weeks. In the principal’s words:
“They did not get school credit, they did not get grades. They were part of the group because they wanted to write and share poetry. One of the boys in the group had been writing for years and was comfortable sharing the very first day. Another boy in the group had never written a poem in his life! Slowly, through the lessons from CEEAS and a bit of bravery from the each boy in the group, we began sharing poems each day. They would give feedback and encourage each other. By the final week, they were composing, sharing, rewriting and applauding each other’s work.”
These educators didn’t get paid extra to organize the multi-site, family-invited poetry slam, or to advocate for and then take students out to a local poetry competition, or to stay after school for a poetry club. They supported these activities because they care about their students. They understand the power of offering them a chance to express themselves and share their experiences with each other, their families, and beyond.
Today, we salute them and all those teachers in juvenile justice facilities who work relentlessly on behalf of kids who are locked up.