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

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.”