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Letter from the Director

We’ve been busy this summer, adding tools to help states improve schools in youth correctional facilities and strengthening our relationships with teachers, principals, and agency-level education leaders.
As you’ll see from the articles in this newsletter, we’re doing a lot of work on talent management.  We continue to believe that getting really solid teachers and leaders into schools, helping them improve, retaining those who are most committed to excellence, and ushering out those who have low standards for our kids are critical components of meaningful education and juvenile justice reform. To help achieve these goals, we are introducing our Hiring Guide and rolling out two e-mentoring programs this fall.  We’ve also started intensive work with New York and Missouri as they ramp up their teacher training, observation, and evaluation programs.
We also want to keep giving teachers in secure settings top-notch curricular materials. So, building on the success of last spring’s Words Unlocked poetry contest, we are introducing a narrative writing initiative, Untold Stories, that we’ve planned in conjunction with Richard Ross. Untold Stories will start on October 1 in youth facilities all around the country.
You can read about all of these initiatives in this newsletter.
As the school year starts up, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also remind our readers how far we have to go to ensure that young people who are in youth detention and correctional settings get the education they need (and are entitled to) in order to be successful when they return home. Candidly, we still have too many correctional facilities where youthful offenders are denied an education and other essential services.
For example, in August we learned that young people at Contra Costa County's juvenile facility are spending excessive time in isolation, without access to educational programs of any kind. In many cases, those held in solitary confinement for months on end have learning disabilities, mental illness, or other disabilities. Advocacy groups in California have now challenged this practice in a federal class-action lawsuit.
Based on our visits to facilities all around the country and discussions with colleagues, I can say, with terrible sadness and anger, that thousands of young people confined in what are supposed to be rehabilitative settings are spending significant portions of their time in isolation and segregation units. Far too many young people who enter the juvenile justice system with diagnosed mental and behavioral health needs get into disputes with other students or staff and end up in isolation instead of receiving the care and support they need.

At CEEAS our work is primarily aimed at helping agencies improve educational practice and policies. However, we will be actively working with our advocacy partners to ensure that state agencies that use segregation and isolation excessively and deny youth in their care basic rights—including the right to education as mandated by state and federal laws—are held accountable. We recognize that we cannot fulfill our mission and provide young people in secure facilities with the opportunity to remake their lives if such practices are allowed to continue.

CEEAS Launches e-Mentoring Programs

We are excited to announce the start of two e-mentoring programs, one for teachers and one for principals in youth correctional settings. The programs address one of the major challenges these educators face—they are isolated, often working in small facilities without district-level support, they don’t have experienced, high-performing colleagues to turn to for advice, and they lack a peer group with whom they can work and grow. 
Our e-mentoring programs are research-based and draw heavily on the work of the New Teacher Center, whose leadership has provided us with critical guidance.
Once e-mentors and e-mentees are matched up, they communicate with each other at least once a week via email, phone, text, IM, or video chat. In addition, they participate in a year-long curriculum that includes monthly online discussions and learning forums using a “flipped classroom” model. CEEAS develops the curricular materials, manages the discussions, and offers coaching and support to the participants through a virtual platform we developed with Edmodo. All participants have access to a special CEEAS site on Edmodo where they can share resources, chat, and participate in discussions with the entire e-mentoring community. 
This fall, the e-mentoring programs will be available at no fee to state agencies that are members of our consortium. Training starts the week of September 9 and e-mentors meet their e-mentees the week of September 16.
If you are interested in learning more about our e-mentoring programs or in working with us to design a program for your agency, please write to Kat Crawford at

Launching October 1:
Untold Stories

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”  ~ Maya Angelou
October is National Youth Justice Awareness Month. What better way to participate than with an initiative to support incarcerated teens in communicating the stories only they can tell!
Following the overwhelming response to our poetry initiative, Words Unlocked, CEEAS is proud to announce Untold Stories. This month-long initiative will include practitioner-ready curricular materials, a nationwide competition, and a publishing opportunity in Richard Ross’s forthcoming book, Juvie Talk.
Schools and educational programs in juvenile facilities around the U.S. are invited to begin implementing the Untold Stories curriculum on October 1, 2013. All materials for the initiative will be available at the Untold Stories wiki site, which will house a robust set of tools available for public use, including:
  • 10-day curriculum module
  • Writing pre-assessment and progress monitoring system
  • Daily Writer’s Workshop-style lesson plans
  • Teacher-ready student handouts and rubrics
  • Teacher community forum
  • Teacher tips
  • Presentation materials in SMARTBoard, ActivBoard, MS Word, and PDF formats.
Untold Stories will officially launch on October 1, but don’t wait until then to get involved. Click here to sign up for email updates and click here to join the Edmodo Community: Untold Stories. Be a part of the correctional teacher community and start collaborating with us today.
Visit our Untold Stories wiki site after Labor Day to begin planning for this amazing event!

CEEAS Publishes a Comprehensive Hiring Guide

We are thrilled to announce the first edition of our start-to-finish Hiring Guide, designed specifically for secure facilities and alternative schools. The guide walks you through the process of choosing a great teacher with a timeline, a checklist to use when reviewing résumés, a bank of interview questions, materials for evaluating sample lessons, and many other resources. Each section includes ready-to-use forms and concise explanations. While each section can stand alone, the guide is designed to be a comprehensive resource, adding efficiency and consistency to the hiring process.
Individual school leaders can preview and purchase the Hiring Guide on our website for $49. If you would like to consider using the guide for an entire agency or school system, please contact us.

CEEAS Helps New York and Missouri Implement Improved Teacher Training, Observation, and Evaluation Systems 

At CEEAS, we believe that improving the quality of teaching in classrooms in youth correctional settings is a critical component of juvenile justice reform.
In New York, we are helping the Education Bureau of the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) roll out the highly regarded Charlotte Danielson teacher evaluation framework in its secure facilities. Principals and other instructional leaders will be using the Teachscape technology platform to support the Bureau’s implementation of the Danielson model. 


CEEAS introduced the new framework for teacher observation and evaluation to OCFS principals during a day-long session on August 9. With support and coaching from CEEAS, the principals are completing online training and certification via Teachscape. In the process, they are being encouraged to reprioritize their time so that they can get into classrooms frequently and conduct post-observation conferences with teachers. Lynette Tannis from CEEAS will be supporting the principals over the course of the year as they adapt to this new practice.
In Missouri, we are helping the Division of Youth Services (DYS) introduce a teacher evaluation framework that integrates agency-specific priorities with key aspects of Kim Marshall's teacher evaluation guidelines. DYS has a unique and highly effective therapeutic program model, which results in youth coming to school really ready to learn. Over the last few years, DYS leaders have taken aggressive steps to improve the agency’s educational programming and the academic outcomes for youth in its care. 


CEEAS is proud to be able to support these efforts by helping DYS develop a more robust system for observing and training teachers. Christy Sampson-Kelly and Hailly T.N. Korman from CEEAS worked with DYS education leadership over the spring and summer to develop training materials, which they introduced to over 100 participants at a two-day education summit at the end of August.  Both Hailly and Christy left Missouri feeling inspired by the commitment to improving instruction so clearly shown by the enthusiastic engagement of the DYS facility managers, group leaders, teachers, and staff.

In This Issue:

Job Alert
Juniper Hills School in Nampa, Idaho is hiring an Instruction Assistant.
We want to wish a great start of the school year to all of our teachers. Click the picture to watch a special back-to-school Slideshow featuring the consortium teachers. 

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An Interview with Joe Buckles, 2013 Teacher of the Year

Joe Buckles, a math teacher at Juniper Hills High School in Idaho, was named Teacher of the Year in CEEAS’s first annual Lighting the Fire competition. Hailly T.N. Korman, our Director of Talent Management, had an opportunity to ask Joe a few questions about his work and his advice for new teachers.
Could you tell us a little bit about your background? How long have you been teaching? How did you end up working in corrections?
Like many students, I didn’t know what type of career I wanted when I graduated from high school in 1989. I ended up going to college but wasn’t very motivated.  I finally graduated in 1996 with a degree in communication. I had several jobs after college but wasn’t satisfied so I decided to return to college to pursue a teaching certificate in 1999. I chose this because I wanted to pair what I studied in college and working with young people. After earning my teaching certificate, I was a part-time night school teacher for two semesters.
My move to corrections was by accident. I needed a full-time job and a friend told me about the opening with Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections. I can’t say that working in this environment was a goal of mine or that I had intended on staying very long, but here I am still working for the department after ten years.
Are there any students whose experiences have stayed with you over time?
I don’t know if there is one single experience that stands out. I have heard many stories over the years that have had an impact on me. What I have realized, though, is that the juveniles I work with are just “normal kids” for the most part who have both had some very bad things happen to them and have made some very bad choices. I often think about what changing one or two things in their pasts would have done to keep them from incarceration. I also think about where I would be if one or two things had gone differently when I was younger.
What keeps you inspired and motivated each day?
I have very few students compared to teachers in traditional public high schools.  As a result, I get to build relationships with my students that may not be possible in those traditional school settings. This involvement with my students allows me to be directly impacted by their academic success. I get to share in their success as well as motivate and guide them when a topic needs to be readdressed. I am also reminded regularly of the life skills that students need in order to be successful in school. Many students enter my class without persistence and without being self-starters. Students need these qualities to succeed in school but also in life. I have many discussions with students about how developing these types of skills will benefit them throughout their adult lives.
Is there any advice that you'd give to a new teacher working with incarcerated youth?
Don’t get hung up on what crimes the student committed prior to being in your class. I have access to this information but I don’t actively seek it out. It doesn’t have much bearing on the task of teaching and I wouldn’t want to run the risk of treating a student differently because I know this information. Once in a while this topic comes up in discussion with my students and they seem surprised that I don’t know why many of them have been committed to state’s custody. I have also had students tell me they respect the fact that I don’t dig through their criminal history.
Joe’s principal at Juniper Hills High School, Tim Rigsby, added:
Joe is a dedicated instructional leader committed to providing a high-quality education for the students he serves. Over the years, Joe has created a learning environment consistent with our school and agency mission while focusing on celebrating student success in the classroom, helping students achieve academic and therapeutic goals, and preparing youth for life in the community upon release.

The Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections is committed to recruiting teachers of a high caliber who are driven to provide the best education possible for youth in custody. Many are unfamiliar with the hard work teachers like Joe put forth on a daily basis in correctional environments across the country in helping to deliver a high-quality, rigorous, and student-focused curriculum.
Copyright © 2013 Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, All rights reserved.

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