Contact Us Take The Pledge      
Transforming a Generation: 90% Literacy by Third Grade
Join the others who have taken the pledge:
Janet Alford, Karen Taylor, Hayley Gondek, Matt McManus, Keondra Eberhardt, maria marron, Narda Pitkethly, Vero Beach Museum of Art, Susan Del Tufo, United Way of Indian River Co., Dasie Hope Center, Autumn Wheeler, Jeff The Bro, janice pagan, Marie OBrien, Kenny Carmichael, Joy Lukomski, Katherine Wolf, Laurie Pedersen, Annie Brown, Kelly Palmer, Heather Quigley, Mary Kramek, Donna Hedgecock, Jennifer Croom, Brittany Lindsey, -1' 1, Michelle Chandler, Carrie Spencer, Megan Falcone, ISABELLA LAGGES, Liane McMullen, Christy Baer, Paige Newinski, Vero Beach Police Department, Achillies Pace, Renee Lincoln, charlene bentien, Ana Renuart, Lisa McFaland, Marta Cronin, Gisele Parker, ggdxfg fdgfh, Melinda Judson, Jennifer Steele, Rose Brickles, Helene Caseltine, JIM BATORY, Elizabeth Tetreault, Annie Brown, Elizabeth Pinkney, Amy Speak, Amy Kelly, Lisa Segroves, Casey Dunn, jennifer jackson, Christine Ryall, Ralph Sunshine Acquisitions, Gabrielle Wagner, parker hammond, John obrien, Kelly Palmer, yaquelin andrade, Elias Medina, Teri Dugan, Linda Condit, Carol David, Tracey Barker, Laura McGill, Lori Nalls, Emilia Jacobs, Bridgette Diskin, Kelly Sartain, Heidi Lourie, Kimberly Robideau, Shariea Shoatz, Jill Truax, Kathleen Nealy, Lisa Guilmette, Kerilyn Ngom, Michele Smith, Juelie Perry, Jennifer Seifstein, audrey colonna, Cathy Durrett-Filusch, Bruce Green, Clare Hughes, 1 1, Sherrie Hale, Kelley Williams, Tiffany Carlsen, Dean Stewart Photography, Lesley Lane, Sue Sharpe, Mari Seg, Angel Maldonado, sharon richards, Michelle Bass, matt KdPIOvmNNItBy, Amanda Stevens, DOE-OEL, Fellsmere Police Department FPD, Janie Graves Hoover, ann prince, Tisa Blidgen, valerie conway, Shawna Carton, Margaret Dawson-Brown, Amanda Acker, Angela Bosman, kari broomell, Bent Pine Golf Club, Jenna Chatfield, FRAN PERKINS, GEORGE JETT, Sophie Wood, MAry Grace Hektner, Nicole Piontek, Tirso Moreno, elizabeth bahl, Megan Falcone, Kevin Maloney, Elizabeth Pinkney, Indian River Taekwondo Langlois, Elizabeth Stenger, Lenora Ritchie, Renee Boesch, Agnieszka Szymanska, Milli Wenzel, Teri Dugan, Ashley Farruggio, Keith Touchberry, Heather Young, Cynthia Jorgensen, Vero Equine Riding Academy , Boys & Girls Clubs of Indian River County, Patricia Mandell, Mary Graves, Heidi Lourie, tommy collettit, tommy collettit, Guillermina Walker, Vero Beach Magazine, VBKA, 1 1, TLA, Erin Hollander, Kerilyn Ngom, Gloria Luna, Jessica Cox, Andrea Cosner, Kristina Trahan, Kristi Challenor, Matthew McManus, Milli Wenzel, Rebecca Turner, hannah kaufeh, Lisa Bishop, Alejandrina Micket, Doug Glenn, Becky Allen, Samantha Breen, Heather Thompson, Elaine McGinty, Kathryn Woodall, Mary Anne Sitkowski, LaTanya Morgan, Susan Del Tufo, Christina Hayes, Gina Sultaire, Harvest Food & Outreach Center, Kidz Closet Charities, Jennifer Roberts, Dorothy Cominsky, Sharon Klein, audrey colonna, Indian River County Lawyers Auxiliary, Donna Hedgecock, Nancy De La Hoz, Liz Tetreault, Amanda Emanuel, Sonja Phillips, Patricia Mandell, Becky Warren, Sterling Bobbitt , liz woody, Margaret Autullo, Jennifer Durrett, Diane Bressner, Cindi Ellis, Tessa Stanley, belinda washimgton-davis, Annie Brown, Carla Cundiff, Bill McMullen, Courtney Mellin, Bobbie Donelson, Brooke Flood, Nancy Prizito, Helene Caseltine, ruth darrigo, Arlene Kahn, kelly baysura, Lisa Barnum, Teri Barenborg, Brittany Bailey, Becky Levesque, Nancy Sparkman, Krishna Patel, Karen Newkirk, Kathy Minix, Debra Barnesd, Ramon Echeverria, Page Woodward, Dr. Connie Proskovec, Lilibeth Ballina, Alaina McCloud, Brenda Zamora, Tami Haffield, Di Pugh, AmeriCorps/Big Brothers Big Sister, Christine Sturgeon, Christopher Cummings, Stacey Fletcher, Shannon Gillen, Angela Jawhar, Debra Schroeder, jorge luis ramirez, Ronda Weaver, Lydia Galbraith, Stacey Klim, Yasmin Medina, sabrina fraga, Kay Yurigan, 211/Help Me Grow, Patricia Beaudoin, Robyn Bethel, Vero Beach Museum of Art, Jeanne Prince, Arianna Lagges, Mindy Lessem Pollack, Tricia Boyle, Farrah Lemanski, Lisa Guillette, Toni Reukauf, Tammy Eriksen, hannah kauferh, Traci McGough, Kelli Mejia, Karen Newkirk, Tina Campbell, Kim Klaus, Rebecca Blair, donna palmquist, jacki decaro, joshua poindexter, Natalie Arbuckle, Louis and Sara Smith, Rachel Holpfer, jennifer roker, shelby dorris, Clare Hughes, uritayay, Sandy Hamrick, Kaori Fischer, Mike Gaudio, allene moorehead, Jayne Becker, Literacy Services, Andrea Cosner, Kristin Culbreth, Nate & Kristen Bruckner, Indian River County Chamber of, Dee Hollenbeck, Erica Thomas, Tiffany Justice, Phoebe Beacham, keesha trusty, GoldenTabs VlNDAmqBXuOUgPSzn, Hope Woodhouse , Kim Brady, Kathleen Hamilton, yaquelin andrade, Christy Baer , LaTanya Morgan, renee fraker, Mary Strickler, Susan Del Tufo, Adam Faust, Ann Mathis, Gloria Severino, Rhonda McGilberry, Fourth Quadrant Partners, mardy hall, Nichole Harris, Fidelity Investments, Susan Rosier, Sara Goodman, Randall Hunt, Mardy Fish Children's Foundation, Maureen Nicolace, Tabitha Johnston, Pamela Miller, Barbara Johnson, Gifford Youth Activity Center, Nancy De La Hoz, Linda Hammerle, Angel Maldonado, Isabel Marron , 1 -1', Kirra OBrien, Sharon Delo, Kim Klaus, mardy hall, Gretchen DiVincenzo, Heather Thompson, sharon butler, Deirdre Creech, Mark yBzNyaFpSKdSM, judy jones, Leslie Connelly, Tanya BRAUN, Beth Livers, Sharon Klein, Maria Ortiz, Janet Farmer, briana carter, Emily Wick, Tara Luton , Raquel Searcy, Ralph Autullo, Dorie Shemo, Susan Aguirre , Lucy Roy-Delapaz, Kelli Mejia, Lorri Dior, Carolina Rojas, Whole Child Indian River, Christina Lindgren, Kaori Fischer, Therese Victoria, SHARYN A HAWKER, Deborah Dillon, Socorro Luna, Dr. David Christiansen, Pamela Prange, Elizabeth Falkiewicz, Edward Shanaphy, F.A.C.T. Fellsmere Action Community Team, FELLSMERE ELEMENTARY, Isabel Marron , Hollie McDougall, Susan Rosier, Michael Van Houten, Leslie Jones, Taylor Walker, buzz wurzer, East Coast Earthworks & Excavating, Fidelity Investments, carrie fernandez, Shanti Sanchez, -1' 1, Sandra Daniel, Theresa Wagner, Celeste McWilliams, JOY VANHORN, Diane Donar, mary kannapes, Cheryl Gondek, Dorie Shemo, Sharon Klein, Emily Jarrett, Judy Whalen, Wendi Adams, test test, Healthy Families, Lillian Marsiglia, Heather Helton, Sherry White, Michele Sternberg, Jody Houston, Susan Rosier, Christina Lindgren, Amber Petry, Kathryn Perez, Ramon Echeverria, JIM BATORY, Janai Cooper, Jamie Stalter, STEPHANIE CLARK, Susan Del Tufo, Nancy Blessing, Katie Collier, Diane Mahan, Mary Laquidara, Growing Healthy Kids, Inc., Suzi Rusin, Ramon Echeverria, Laura Zorc, LaTanya Gibson, Lisa Wheeler, Karen Malits, Chuck Evans, Melissa Hall, Cathryn Miquelon, Nicolas ospina de la hoz, Tessa House, shelby dorris, Jeff Miller, cheryl gondek, The Buggy Bunch, Rhonda McGilberry, Mary Ann Kalin, Emme Scheible, Karen Disney, Maria Alvarez, maria miranda, Nancy Blessing, Marisela Luna, kayla poindexter, Tara Miranda, Crystal Gothe, Kayla Chitty, Katrena McMahan, Patrick Toole, Melody M Englert, Fenia Hiaasen, Thomas Moore, Kristen Jones, 1 -1', Devi Maharajh, Marsha Van Arman, Barneyxcq yWxcSpFGWvTabbVDxz, Mark Farrell,

Kids and Cadets

Fellsmere Elementary School third-graders showed impressive gains in reading proficiency this year, and one of the contributing factors was the product of a newly forged relationship – Cadets & Kids – between the 3rd graders at Fellsmere Elementary in Amy Shoemaker's class and recruits attending the Criminal Justice Institute Basic Recruit Training Program at Indian River State College.

The unlikely study buddies met through the efforts of Fellsmere Police Chief Keith Touchberry to improve relations between the community and law enforcement.

“The program didn't start how it finished,” admitted Chief Touchberry. “We adopted a law enforcement recruit class with the purpose of exposing them to what it means to serve a community beyond what they're getting in the classroom.”

As the program evolved, the recruits attended “lunch and learns,” took a field trip to Fellsmere where they spoke with government officials, community leaders and business owners. To further enhance the program, Touchberry contacted Ramon Echeverria, Fellsmere Elementary principal.

“To the recruits’ credit, everyone in that class was highly enthusiastic about volunteering their time to get involved,” said Dr. Lee Spector, Director of the IRSC Criminal Justice Institute Basic Recruit Training Program. “It exposed the recruits to the other side of service.”

Spector explained that by giving the recruits the opportunity to interact with the community, they see they are more than just a uniform and badge, that law enforcement officers are real people and they are there to help.

“It's not just about putting on a uniform and getting in a car with a red and blue light bar on top, handling calls, writing traffic tickets and investigating accidents. Law enforcement officers spend more time in communication with people, interacting and assisting people more than they do anything else in the course of their careers.

The students of the Shoemaker’s Owl class began writing letters and sending cards to the recruits. When Law Enforcement (LE)150 class visited Shoemaker's class, Chief Touchberry said, “Something magical happened. We were just trying to show them [the recruits] what it feels like to get community support.”

In the end, it was a mutually beneficial relationship with both groups of students supporting each other through their academics. Touchberry noted, “The school year [and the law enforcement class] coincided, but what's most significant about a third-grade class and a law enforcement class is they both have to pass an important test at the end of their learning if they are going to go on to the next level.”

The recruits worked as a team as they went through basic recruit training and shared their successes with the children, who were so motivated by their buddies they adopted the future law enforcement officers' motto: “11 in 11 out; together we will fight it out.” The two groups of students communicated throughout the year via cards, letters, emails and videos.

The Learning Alliance provided instructional support, and the Exchange Club of Fellsmere purchased headphones to help the Owls prepare for the Florida State Assessment and support the Indian River County School District's Moonshot Moment goal of 90 percent literacy by the end of the third grade.

To further bolster the students and build their self-esteem, the Exchange Club purchased police academy hats dubbed “thinking caps” to be worn in the classroom when students were doing important work. “Amy used these hats to incentivize their learning,” said Chief Touchberry, noting “the hats could not leave the classroom, which just elevated their importance.”

Shoemaker's class had a relationship with the recruits, but Touchberry wanted to support the entire third grade. “As a police department, we wanted to help get all of the kids ready for their test.” Touchberry wrote letters to all third graders at Fellsmere Elementary School, reinforcing the message: study hard, get a good night’s sleep, eat a good breakfast and don't stay up late. “We wanted the kids to know ‘We're here, we care about you, we want you to pass your exam.’”

“The greatest evidence that we have to say that the partnership made an impact is our gains in our reading scores,” said Lindsey Matheny, Fellsmere assistant principal. “Last year we were at 39 percent proficient with our third graders and overall this year we're at 50 percent. I think that numerically speaks to the benefit of the program.”

All but one student passed the FSA in Shoemaker's class according to Fellsmere principal Ramon Echeverria. “The recruits are part of the big picture; they were part of the many other factors that contributed for us to excel this year.” Other factors were a more precise curriculum, working with an interventionist provided by The Learning Alliance, parent support and the teachers' willingness to look at the data and tweak their instruction.

This is a true partnership between the Fellsmere Police Department, Fellsmere Elementary School, Indian River State College, the Exchange Club of Fellsmere and, of course, The Learning Alliance Moonshot Moment, noted Chief Touchberry.

The Owls were able to attend the recruit's graduation and according to Echeverria, “You talk about a love affair. That cohesive support that we had really made it happen.”

One of the students said, “It helps me support my friends and other people, and now I feel like I am very important to the whole community.”

“We're going to do Cadets & Kids with the entire third grade at Fellsmere Elementary this year. Every kid in third grade is going to get a 'thinking cap' thanks to the Exchange Club,” said Chief Touchberry.

Touchberry notes, “State prisons and jails are full of eighth-grade educated inmates. That's the correlation between literacy and crime. That's why we are deeply involved. We believe in crime prevention solutions, and as a police leader I believe that literacy is a key thing that law enforcement should focus on.”

According to Echeverria, at the end of the school year the children were able to take their “thinking caps” home and one of the kids wears his to bed “because it makes him smarter. The Fellsmere Police Dept. has tapped into that magical world where the kids can fly.”