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

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.”