If true heroes are those individuals who risk their lives to protect our world and make it a better place, it can then be said that the Department of Juvenile Justice is full of heroes who make the extraordinary routine each and every day. Many times people who are not overly familiar with DJJ do not understand that heroism is ingrained in the character of our staff and can manifest itself both inside and outside of the department’s walls.
For Investigator Danielle Batie, even a simple driving trip home from the Atlanta Youth Development Campus tested her mettle and fortitude; Danielle Batie was the first person to come across a devastating bus crash that had just taken place on Camp Creek Parkway in south Fulton County.
While the results of the crash were extraordinary, the details leading up to Investigator Batie’s involvement were simply a matter of routine. Driving home on Camp Creek Parkway near Merk Road, Batie came across a church bus that had flipped over after colliding with a car already in the lane.
Surprised and thinking to herself that the scene reminded her of a movie set, Batie nevertheless quickly composed herself and jumped into action to help. Standing in front of the bus, Batie activated her emergency flashers and used her vehicle to block traffic. With the help of an off-duty firefighter, Batie helped to pull 10-15 people out of the bus to safety. After doing so, Batie began providing water to the victims until the first-responders made it to the crash scene.
The bus that was involved in the crash was transporting a crew of high school students and chaperones from Mt. Zion Church in Huntsville to the airport for a mission trip to Africa. The crash killed one of the teenage passengers and sent dozens more to the hospital.
Batie directly helped many of the wounded at the crash scene. Whether consoling victims of shock or calling the families of the wounded to let them know that their loved ones were safe, she was not going to leave until all involved were safe and secure and transported to local area hospitals.
DJJ salutes Investigator Danielle Batie for her compassion and dedication to her community.
Story information provided by Ann Williams and graphic designed by Mary Catherine Heard
Youth at Terrell County RYDC recently enjoyed a visit from their favorite canine, Fred. Fred is a therapy dog and part of DJJ’s Rescue 2 Restore program. During his regular visits, the youth enjoy seeing the numerous tricks Fred can perform. He is trained to sit, shake, roll over, sing and even say “I love you.”
DJJ Therapy Dog Handler and Certified Humane Education Specialist Kelly Lewis found Fred as a puppy, abandoned and injured. She took him in and under her care Fred began to thrive and show high levels of emotional recognition in people, a trait essential for dogs participating in canine therapy programs. Fred has visited youth in DJJ facilities since 2014. Lewis has taken Fred to visit the Atlanta, Eastman and Macon YDCs, and DeKalb, Martha K. Glaze and Elbert Shaw RYDCs. In 2016, he passed both the America Kennel Club Good Citizen Title Test and the Pet Partners Therapy Dog Registration Test.
Fred always seems to recognize when certain youths need a little extra attention and will gravitate to them naturally. “Over the course of time I have had Fred, I have been amazed at his empathy for those who really need his attention and love,” Lewis said. “I am so glad that he has such a positive impact on those he comes into contact with.”
Often during Fred’s visit you will hear the youths telling him they love him and asking Ms. Kelly when they are coming back for another visit. “Fred’s visits are always a highlight for the youth at Terrell County RYDC,” said Albert Medvar, director of the facility. “The staff and I are always delighted to learn that Kelly Lewis will be bringing Fred to visit. They bring great joy to the youth, and most love having an opportunity to interact with a dog – particularly a dog as smart and caring as Fred!”
DJJ launched Rescue 2 Restore in the summer of 2014. The program is designed to harness the restorative power of the human-animal bond by utilizing structured rescue dog training programs, humane education sessions, and therapy dog interactions. Rescue 2 Restore program goals include allowing youths a natural development of, and opportunity to practice life skills such as responsibility, positive and patient interactions, educational successes and community service. Program outcomes are designed to decrease behavioral issues within secure facilities, increase skills that will allow for entry-level employment upon release, and allow for empowerment and connection with community through service learning projects.
Not only does the program facilitate the visitation of therapy dogs like Fred to facilities, but also gives youths the opportunity to train and care for rescued dogs. Participating youth spend several weeks training their dogs. At the end of the program, the youths and their dogs participate in a graduation ceremony and the newly trained dogs are adopted out to their “forever homes.” The program helps troubled youth discover companionship and develop a sense of accountability while making shelter dogs more adoptable. Rescue 2 Restore is managed by Christine Kaczynski.
PBIS at DJJ: Recent Elbert Shaw RYDC Employees of the Month
Photos and information provided by Lt. Kristen Nix
Recently, the Elbert Shaw Regional Youth Detention Center (Elbert Shaw RYDC) announced winners of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Employee of the Month for the facility: Michelle Kittle and the C Key Department Security Team (Lieutenant Michael Mulkey, Sergeant Charles Barbee, SSCM Amanda Stewart, Recreation Supervisor Adam White, Officer Delos Santos, Officer Andrew Bailey, Officer Hannah Anderson and Officer Corey Rodgers). The PBIS Employee of the Month award is open to all employees in fields of Safety & 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, 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 the regular job assignments for the good of DJJ.
Be consistent, dependable and punctual in reporting for duty.
According to her co-workers and supervisors, Michelle Kittle has "one of the most detailed jobs in the Department of Juvenile Justice. If you do not understand her workload, all you would need to do is review policy to see what the JDC has to complete for each youth at Elbert Shaw. You would be surprised at the amount of requirements Ms. Kittle has to accomplish daily. I have in the past asked her several times is there any way that I can help her and the answer is always the same: "I appreciate it, but it's my job and I will get it done somehow." She not only has to deal with the youth in the facility but also with guardians to keep them informed of the youth's care. It amazes me how after all of her years here, she still cares about the youth with a strong passion. This passion also translates to her co-workers where she will give you honest and good advice. She is full of honesty, integrity, perseverance, compassion and dependability. I appreciate all the years, tears and commitment she has given Elbert Shaw."
The work of the C Key Department Security Team is widely appreciated at Elbert Shaw. A detailed example of this good work was described as: "Last night 1 was able to observe the entire C Key come together as a team and deal with an extremely serious incident. Many times we are not able to witness the folks that take care of this facility and the youth in our charge during the evening hours. Rest assured, the C Key handled the incident I viewed with perfection, averting a potential life-threatening situation. All involved worked like a well-tuned instrument. Leadership made appropriate calls/decisions and medical assistance was flawless. After the incident, all hands were on point to complete the necessary clean-up so that visitation could be completed. Space does not allow the recognition deserved. Thank you Lieutenant Mulkey, Sergeant Barbee, Amanda Stewart. Adam White, Officer Delos Santos, Officer Andrew Bailey, Officer Hannah Anderson, and Officer Corey Rodgers for a job well done."
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 http://www.djjnewsandviews.org/pbisatdjj/.
Story information provided by Statewide PBIS Administrator Janette Nihles
Recently, the Sumter Youth Development Campus (Sumter YDC) held several events for youth and employees alike as part of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program. Known as the Tiger's Den, the Sumter YDC allowed youth with high level behavioral scores in facility and school settings to participate in three events: the Mother and Son Dance, the Red and White Brunch and the Summer Splash.
The Mother and Son Dance was held in late July and 12 of the Sumter YDC youths participated in the event. In addition to the actual dancing, food and conversation were the part of the festivities with many of the youths' mothers, sisters and grandmothers in attendance. While being on the Sumter campus was a treat in and of itself, each visitor was also surprised with a unique gift bag as a way of saying "thank you" for attending this year's Mother and Son Dance.
The Red and White Brunch brought together Sumter YDC youths with their mothers, sisters, aunts and, in one case, Officer Brown serving as a "family friend" for two of the participants. As part of the Red and White Brunch, youths had the opportunity to paint a picture for their family attendees and present their work during the meals. A highlight of the brunch included each youth handing out a rose to their special guests.
The Summer Splash is a staple of PBIS programming and this year's event at the Sumter YDC was cool reminder of its popularity. Seventy-three youths participated in waterslides, games and an overall fun time. No one, including staff, was spared from being doused with water during the Summer Splash, a cool way to reward good behavior at DJJ.
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 over the counter 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 http://www.djjnewsandviews.org/pbisatdjj/.
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) senior fisheries biologist John Kilpatrick recently visited Terrell County RYDC to teach the youth about the types of local fish found in south Georgia’s waters. Kilpatrick brought an ice chest full of fish samples from the Flint River. Youth were able to hold a Bullhead, Carp, Largemouth Bass, Sunfish, Walleye and Yellow Perch and learn about each fish’s anatomy. He described different fishing techniques as well.
“I had not known this type of opportunity was available until Ann Williams asked me to come to Terrell County RYDC,” said Kilpatrick. “I knew this was something I wanted to do. I could not pass up the opportunity to teach the youth on a subject I am so passionate about.”
Kilpatrick talked to the youth about the importance of conservation efforts in the Flint River and the state, and explained the role DNR has in that effort. He sought to give the youth a greater appreciation for the environment and local wildlife. One youth mentioned, “It’s pretty cool to learn hands-on about what types of fish and wildlife are found nearby instead of from a textbook.”
Kilpatrick spent the rest of the afternoon entertaining the youth with fishing stories from his childhood. He also described plenty of great areas to fish in Georgia and encouraged the youth to give fishing a try in the future. Kilpatrick is a U.S. Navy veteran and received his degree in aquatic biology from Ball State University. He has spent 11 years working for DNR and currently resides in Leesburg with his family.