One of the most challenging, but exciting efforts I am currently working on as Maricopa County School Superintendent is reimagining the educational environment in our Juvenile Detention Centers.

On any given day, about 150 high school aged children are in our county detention centers. These are good kids who, for a variety of reasons, are dealing with difficult times. They tend to be some of our most vulnerable children, but have great worth. They are not long term incarcerated. The average stay is about 22 days, but as with all children in Arizona, there is a legal requirement that they attend school. More importantly however, we have a moral obligation to care for, educate and inspire the kids in juvenile detention.

I am working with Juvenile Detention to change the education experience for kids in these facilities. I am leading the implementation of a more engaging curriculum. My experience as a Career and Technical Education teacher is informing this work. We are working not just to teach these kids, but also engage and inspire them – reignite a light inside each one. CTE classes are some of the most engaging classes in education. As students leave detention it is my hope that they find a similar program at a school near them or they choose to look at programs in the Maricopa County Regional School District (link).

Transformation takes time and there are many people coming together to support this work. We are at the beginning of these changes. I look forward to continuing this work.