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 Words Alive Recognizes JCCS

The San Diego County Office of Education's Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) program is being recognized for its partnership with a local organization focused on reading.

Each year, Words Alive honors one of its community partners for helping to further its mission of fostering a love of reading and creating opportunities for success.

This year, the organization picked JCCS, which has been a partner since Words Alive started in 1999 through a volunteer-driven reading program.

"Being recognized by Words Alive is a powerful indicator of the importance that community partners play as a vital role in the lives of our students." Said Stacy Spector, executive director of JCCS. "The tutors and readers are not just models for the value of literacy, they are also role models for our students to be a part of a greater citizenry."

JCCS has helped by inviting Words Alive employees to professional development opportunities, hosting tailor-made workshops about the new state standards for volunteers, including Words Alive in the discussion about SDCOE's Local Control and Accountability Plan, and working collectively on creating a bigger impact in the classroom, said Chrissy Califf, program manager at Words Alive.

"JCCS has walked the walk," Califf said. "As an integral partner for Words Alive for 15 plus years, JCCS has established a joint venture with our organization—creating an environment of which our Words Alive volunteers and staff feel like part of the community, or family,"

JCCS provides an educational program for school-age youth who are either wards of the court or have been referred by social services, probation, or one of the 42 school districts in San Diego County.

In the next three years, Words Alive has set a goal to expand its Adolescent Book Group program into all JCCS sites. The program includes facilitated book group discussions with students and volunteers. Through reading and sharing opinions about books, book group participants enhance self-esteem, reading levels, vocabulary, critical thinking and literary analysis.

"This experience creates a community of readers that cultivates critical thinking, highlights student connections through student voice, and provides positive, long-lasting memories with fascinating books in an environment of engaging and caring volunteers," said Glade Whitehead, who teaches 3rd grade at JCCS's Monarch School. "This program solidified our classroom culture of family while contributing to my goal of creating lifelong learners through reading."


Photo: Stacy Spector, JCCS executive director, and Patrick Stewart, executive director of Words Alive.