JDC Students Meet with Book Authors
August 31, 2023 - Moving forward with hope, setting goals, and creating opportunities past incarceration are just a few of the themes students in St. Louis County Courts Schools discussed during a visit from book authors Terrence G. White and Bettye L. Blaize.
“The experience was amazing,” said Leslie Mcentire, teacher. “Bettye and Terrance were down to earth and totally approachable. The students were engaged in the presentation and were eager to ask questions.”
The mother and son duo visited the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC) at the beginning of the school year to talk about a book they wrote together called “Doing Time with My Son.” It is inspired by a season of White’s life when he was in and out of prison and how his mother stood by him during his incarceration.
“Mr. White talked about what he learned through the process. Ms. Blaize also met with my staff and talked about the importance of self-care and gave them resources to assist with talking to mothers of those incarcerated,” said Ann Hawkey, principal of the SSD Courts Program. “The experience was captivating for everyone.”
There are over 50 students in the Courts Program and all of them will read the book during the fall and participate in three book study follow-ups with the authors on Zoom. The school is also partnering with the St. Louis County Library, which will allow students to engage with local authors throughout the school year.
“The partnership allows multiple authors to speak via Zoom to our students. The discussions can empower our students to learn from others and dive into situations that assist in life lessons,” said Hawkey.
“It also goes over the writing process, and it lets them know that they too can write a book,” said Mcentire. “I love that I am able to develop a love of reading in students who had little to no interest before.”
Mcentire says being a JDC teacher is rewarding. Hawkey enjoys leading a school where students are given the opportunity to change their lives through education. They plan on incorporating more books that students can relate to in the future.
The SSD St. Louis County Court Schools provide educational services for students at the Juvenile Detention Center (JDC). Students are provided with instruction and the opportunity to earn credits towards graduation. The focus of the Courts Program is to give students the skills they need to make a successful transition back to their home school and/or post-school life after graduation.