Views from the 2017 GPA Summer Conference DJJ Staff  at:  6/15/2017  

Views from the 2017 GPA Summer Conference

DJJ news story written by Mary Catherine Heard

The Department of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ) Education Division held its annual Professional Learning Meeting at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain on June 5-7. Administrators and educators from the division and its Georgia Preparatory Academy (GPA) gathered to discuss future plans, recognize awards and successes and participate in innovative training sessions. The theme of the conference was “Teamwork and Transformation: Real School, Right Here, Right Now.” That theme highlights the need to deliver quality education to youth in DJJ facilities.

DJJ Commissioner/Superintendent of Schools Avery D. Niles addressed attendees during the opening luncheon: “We came together and we will lead together. Education is first, security takes care of everything else. Every child should have an opportunity to learn. Every child should have the opportunity to engage.” Commissioner Niles also reminded teachers that they not only have to be prepared to teach, but prepared to inspire.

Jean Lee also addressed conference attendees. As the recently installed Associate Superintendent, Lee told teachers, “I am astounded by the dedication and professionalism I have seen to date. Keep up the good work!” Her vision for GPA schools includes collective goal setting, increased accountability, and further engagement of parents and stakeholders.

Arisha Dancy-Mattox was honored as the 2016 DJJ Teacher of the Year. She has spent five years as an English-Language Arts teacher at Aaron Cohn RYDC. Dancy-Mattox works hard to instill a love of learning within her students and strives to boost their self-esteem and confidence. She holds a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology and certifications in Educational Leadership, Early Childhood, English-Language Arts and Special Education.

Attendees also participated in the Gang Awareness Training Session led by Ryan Foles of the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division and a DJJ wellness education program conducted by Lauren Gean, Chief of Nutrition and Food Services.

Winifred Pierce introduced the conference’s keynote speaker, Dr. Earl Suttle. A speaker who motivates leaders, Dr. Suttle has worked with Fortune 500 companies, corrections organizations, government and healthcare workers, educators and athletes. He told attendees to continue their professional development and to not only teach their students but to lead them as well.

GPA is Georgia’s 181st school district and serves students in 26 secure facilities around the state. GPA abides by Commissioner Niles’ philosophy “Each one reach one, teach one and keep one.”





     DJJ Gang Prevention Training DJJ Staff  at:  6/8/2017  
DJJ Gang Prevention Training

Photos and information from Security Risk Group Coordinator Jay Lewis and Investigator II Ray Ham

In May, Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Niles ordered that all DJJ employees and staff in contact with youth were required to receive instruction on criminal street gang culture and response by July 1st. Taught by Security Risk Group Coordinator Jay Lewis and Investigator II Ray Ham, the DJJ Gang Prevention Training was held at 16 different locations around the state with over 2,800 employees to-date receiving the prevention instruction.

Some of the topics discussed included:

  •   Criminal street gang history in America and criminal street gang infiltration in Georgia and in DJJ facilities.

  •   Criminal street gang signs, symbols and identifiers and the potential threat of ignoring these gang identifiers.

  •   The appropriate response and reporting procedures for criminal street gang activity inside DJJ facilities and in communities.

To learn more about gangs in Georgia and how to stop them, visit




     Elbert Shaw RYDC Employee of the Month Tamara Brindle DJJ Staff  at:  6/6/2017  
PBIS at DJJ: Elbert Shaw RYDC Employee of the Month Tamara Brindle

Photos and information provided by Lt. Kristen Nix. Story and design by Mary Catherine Heard

The Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) announced that Sergeant Tamara Brindle was recently named the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Employees of the Month for the facility. The PBIS Employee of the Month award is open to all in fields of Safety and Security, Medical, Counselors, Mental Health, Education, Food Service, Maintenance, Business, Personnel, Support Staff and Administration.

To become the PBIS Employee of the Month at the Elbert Shaw RYDC, employees must:

• Possess a positive attitude towards work responsibilities, co-workers,and  youth and be willing to serve as a role model for others.

• Show a willingness to exercise servant-leadership, take initiative and accept and carry out additional responsibilities beyond regular job assignments for the good of DJJ.

• Be consistent, dependable and punctual in reporting for duty.

Sergeant Brindle, according to her supervisors and co-workers, “is one of the backbone members of the security staff at the facility. She constantly goes above and beyond to make sure everything is done and every situation is handled.” Brindle exemplifies excellent leadership and teamwork qualities and enthusiastically assists security, intake, education, counselors, maintenance, and administrative staff when needed. With many of her tasks, “she can make one of her staff complete them; however, she does them herself. I don’t know how many nights she has stayed over to complete intakes for the evening shift personnel to help them out. She has done this for so long that sometimes we forget how much she does,” says one of her supervisors. She truly cares for the youth in the facility and will always take time out of her schedule to talk to those who are upset. DJJ thanks Sergeant Brindle for her service and commitment.

PBIS is an evidence-based, data-driven framework proven to reduce disciplinary incidents, increase a school’s sense of safety and support improved academic outcomes. More than 23,000 U.S. schools are implementing PBIS and saving countless instructional hours otherwise lost to discipline. The premise of PBIS is that continual teaching, combined with acknowledgement or feedback of positive student behavior, will reduce unnecessary discipline and promote a climate of greater productivity, safety and learning. PBIS schools apply a multi-tiered approach to prevention, using disciplinary data and principles of behavior analysis to develop school-wide, targeted and individualized interventions and supports to improve the school climate for all students.

To learn more about PBIS at DJJ, visit




     Bountiful Harvest at DJJ DJJ Staff  at:  5/31/2017  
Bountiful Harvest at DJJ

Special thanks to Chief of Nutrition and Food Services Lauren Gean, Eastman YDC Principal Elinor Goode and AOM Jennifer Walls for the photos and information.


Late last year, four youths from the Sumter Youth Development Center (YDC) were selected for a special project at the facility that involved gardening and painting birdhouses. Named the "ART Group," the gardening participants were given a specific challenge to design a planter that resembled a frog. Working together to build the planter, the four young men were confused initially but eventually were able to assemble the planter.


As 2016 came to a close, so too did the community garden harvest at the Sumter YDC. Harvested by Food Service Manager Marilyn Woodard, cabbage grown in the garden was featured on the December 4th menu for the youths housed at the facility.

In addition to enjoying freshly grown vegetables in their meals, youths from the Sumter YDC learned more about nutrition by asking the food staff questions about diets and food used in daily menus. Specialty smoothies were also created in December using turnips grown on campus, providing a tasty alternative to the usual facility snacks.


The horticulture class at the Eastman YDC recently prepared a farm fresh meal for their facility classmates that included cabbage with peppers, potatoes and a salad made from locally grown Romaine lettuce, radishes, carrots and peppers. Food Service Director Tammy Baxter and her staff helped the youth prepare the meal and Horticultural Teacher Deborah Henderson was instrumental in growing the vegetables in the Eastman YDC gardens.

DJJ would like to thank everyone at the Eastman YDC who helped our youth realize the joy of growing one's own food and in helping to educate others on the importance of a varied diet to overall good health. To learn more about the Office of Nutrition and Food Services, visit them on the web at





     DJJ Northeast Region Events DJJ Staff  at:  5/24/2017  

DJJ Northeast Region Events

Newsletter articles from Northeast Region Program Assistant Amy Cason and the Northeast Region Team


Clarke/Oconee JPM Jonathan McMichael recently attended the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) Inter-Site Conference in Orlando, Florida. Joining staffs from the Council of Juvenile Court Judges, DJJ and the Juvenile Courts of Clarke, Clayton, Fulton, Glynn, Newton, and Rockdale Counties, McMichael was able to participate in quality JDAI training.

State agencies dedicated to assisting crime victims came together to observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week on April 4th. The Department of Juvenile Justice and Department of Family and Children Services teamed up at the Athens-Clarke County DFCS building to place pinwheels on the lawn to recognize victims of crimes. In attendance were Assistant Deputy Commissioner Victor Roberts, District Director Todd Bentley, JPPS III Anton Goldwire, Victim Advocate Loronda Giddens, DFCS Director Dawn Criss, Clarke County HITS Supervisor Mike Passmore, Probation Officer I Tiffany Moore, Probation Officer I Brandyn Richardson and intern Alex Hill. DFCS staff and youth from the Clarke County HITS unit also participated in the event.

Stephens CSO staff members JPM Neely and JPPS Huggins participated in the 2017 Rabun County High School Teen Maze on April 6. The Teen Maze is an opportunity for teens to make real-life choices by guiding themselves through staged experiences, seeing the results of their choices in a similuated future. Students navigate through scenarios that include the perils of underage drinking, driving under the influence, texting and driving, teen pregnancy, STDs, juvenile court and jail. Responsible options such as opening banking accounts and establishing budgets are also available to the students. The teens are able to walk through the experience of graduation and death, writing their own eulogy along the way. Multiple agencies were involved in Teen Maze including the Rabun County Community Partnership, Rabun County Sheriff’s Office, EMS, Fire Services, Rescue, Health Department, North Georgia Technical College, Students Against Drunk Driving, DJJ and various other agencies and volunteers.


On April 1, several staff members of the Gwinnett CSO participated in the Color Run 5K Race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Staff who attended included Kurtia Humphrey, Jasmine Reed, Khadijah Muhammad, Mario Alvarez, Jalesa Dickerson and Timothy Hall.

Gwinnett CSO Program Assistant and Evangelist Patricia Grigsby held a Gospel Concert at Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church called “Hymn & I.” The purpose of the concert was to highlight the importance of hymns and how we should focus on bringing singing back into the church. The concert involved singing, dancing, preaching and teaching the purpose of hymns. Several prominent preachers and gospel singers participated in the concert and many Gwinnett CSO staff attended.


On behalf of Chief Judge Lindsay Burton, Judge Alison Toller, Judge Joe Diaz and the Hall County Juvenile Court Staff, we would like to thank the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Hall County CSO for their support in helping us collect food for the Georgia Food Bank Food Frenzy. It was wonderful to see the Juvenile Court and the DJJ Hall CSO staff working together and supporting Hall County families that are in need. This was a wonderful way to not only give back to the community but strengthen our working partnership. We often find ourselves working with the same families while trying to locate community resources. This opportunity allowed us to pool our resources and work together to combat hunger in our community. All it took was one phone call to Todd Bentley, District Director and the Hall CSO staff joined in and assisted us with this effort. We collected a grand total of 7,892 pounds of food that will be distributed. Everyone did a GREAT job and there are many families that will benefit from all our hard work. Thank you Todd for all that you and your staff do in the Hall County Community on behalf of children and families. - Hall County Juvenile Court Administrator Annette Rainer


In April, the Effingham CSO staff participated in the Effingham County Teen Maze. Tenth graders from area high schools were given the opportunity to go through the real-life scenarios of the Teen Maze. JPM Powell functioned as the Probation Department for the youth whose “lives” unfortunately led them through the court process. The maze included a car crash with a helicopter fly-in, a huge party and an emergency room. Many of the participating youth were able to go through “life” without any of those experiences, graduate and, ultimately, find a good job.

Effingham CSO’s Program Assistant Melisa Bragg presented the Community Services Workshop (CSW) for youth on April 19th. Each quarter, the Effingham CSO holds a new CSW to introduce newly probated youth to the community services opportunities within the county. The most recent CSW kicked off the “Beat the Heat” Fan Drive where youth were able to bring in new 20” fans that will be delivered to the elderly with the assistance of the local DFCS.

Tiffany Robinson from the Office of Victim Services and Trenda Moore, JPPS II from Screven CSO, hosted a Victims’ Empathy Workshop for youths in Screven County. During the workshop, the youths learned about victims’ rights and advocacy. They also heard Moore’s personal account of spending time in DJJ facilities and how it impacted her future. The group also helped to recognize National Child Abuse Prevention Week by making pinwheels in recognition of child abuse victims. The pinwheels were placed on the library lawn.

McDuffie CSO JPPS II Shauntisha Williams-Powell attended the Youth Challenge Academy Family and Friends Day on April 22nd with local youth.

On April 18th, Screven/Jenkins CSO, along with the Bulloch HITS team participated in the Jenkins County Career Fair for youth in grades 9 - 12. The event was also attended by DD Bryson and OSM Pope.

The McDuffie CSO enjoyed a visit from Commissioner Avery Niles and Deputy Commissioners Catina Martin-Fenner and Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb on April 12th.

McDuffie also enjoyed a Team Building Day on April 27th.

On April 28th, Loronda Giddens, Victim Advocate with the DJJ Office of Victim Services, held a Service Learning Project at the Richmond CSO located at 971 Broad Street in Augusta. This event was to recognize Child Abuse Prevention Month by placing pinwheels in front of the Richmond CSO building.






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