Juvenile Justice has a Dedicated Team of Educators Fueling Classroom Success

Friday, August 23, 2019 - 5:00pm

High school graduation is one of the first major milestones a young person can aim to achieve. Whether the individual is college-bound, leaving for military training or joining the workforce, a high school diploma is a ticket that gets its holder through the first turnstile toward realizing the American dream.

By the end of this summer, at least 41 high school students from North Carolina juvenile justice facilities, who have worked to earn either a high school diploma or to pass their high school equivalency exam, will have slipped on a robe and mortarboard to stride across a stage and turn their tassel. The presence behind this level of student achievement are the educators of Juvenile Justice, whose daily efforts sharpen minds and inspire young men and women to find and believe in their abilities.

During their annual summer conference in Greensboro, these education professionals gathered to network, collaborate on student motivational approaches, share effective tools for the classroom and recognize the 2019 Teacher of the Year: Dr. Monica Currie.

Currie, who consistently pushes for excellence in her classroom, says that “A teacher should effectively educate and equip students with the necessary tools to become productive citizens in all facets of society.” When she notices potential in someone, she pushes them to achieve beyond the classroom walls. Here’s an example: In addition to her every day classroom activities, the last two years have seen Dr. Currie’s math students compete exceptionally well in the state mathematics competition (hosted by the North Carolina School of Math and Science).

Helping students find success can also include helping them to discover and reach for the next chapter in their journey. Thus, a group of students from Stonewall Jackson YDC – led by Currie and Elliott Willingham – recently toured several colleges in the Charlotte area, which resulted in multiple scholarship offers for several students. They met with admissions directors and staff, athletic coaches and even a university president. The group also ate in a college dining hall, explored the library and visited an honors residence hall. The visit provided the necessary fuel for bigger aspirations.

“A highlight of the tour provided the students a mentoring moment to participants at the Livingstone University summer basketball camp,” exclaimed Currie. Many of the campers they engaged with had similar stories and connections to the juvenile justice system. “Our young men represented themselves very well and shared with them what getting an education can do for your future.”

As of today, three students have received opportunities to pursue college studies at Johnson C. Smith University, Livingstone University and Elizabeth City State University. Additionally, students will be touring Appalachian State University in the coming weeks hoping to secure even more interest in their academic abilities.

The Juvenile Justice Class of 2019 has excelled academically, benefitting from the tools they received from their Juvenile Justice classrooms. The successes and achievements of the class include:  

  • Three students participated in the NCCTM Western Regional Math Fair, and one received Honorable Mention; one student participated in the NCCTM State Math Fair and received Honorable Mention;
  • Upon submitting a poem to a state and national writing competition, one student was selected as a top 10 finalist in the country in the “Young Authors Writing Competition,” sponsored by Columbia College of Chicago, Illinois;
  • One student submitted an original drawing to the NCCTM State Math Logo Competition;
  • One student submitted a personal essay to the National Mental Health Institute’s High School Mental Health Awareness Competition. This student also created a mental health quiz that was administered to a select number of his peers, tabulated the results with visual tables, designed a student mental health awareness/self-inventory, and spoke to the Boys II Men Program this month during National Minority Mental Health Month;
  • Four students completed the SAT college entrance exam and are touring campuses.

“The work put forth by the education team is providing life-changing experiences and opening up opportunities for students,” stated Adam Johnson, director of Education for Juvenile Justice.


Matt Jenkins, Communications Officer