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

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.”