Detention center aims to keep kids focused on academics

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – When an adolescent is taken out of a classroom for any period of time, his or her return affects the entire class. The Lee County Juvenile Detention Center’s goal is to educate detainees so their return to school is seamless.
“The whole idea is, when a child is taken out of a school setting and placed in detention for whatever reason, it slows that classroom down because this child is soon going to be placed back in that same classroom,” said Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson. “The problem we ran into was the teacher will have to go back and review what this child missed.”
During a child’s detention in Lee County, he is required to attend classes in the center’s school.
Once students are detained in the juvenile detention center, they are given assessments in reading and math.
Learning Center Education Coordinator Emily Pulliam said since the students are all on different educational levels, they are given individual instruction.
Pulliam said the direct attention helps the students succeed.
“The students are getting that one-on-one help from the teachers, and the teachers try to motivate the students, even when they leave the center,” she said. “I think because the teachers show compassion for the students and try to motivate them, it plays into the students’ behavior.”
Pulliam said last year four students received their GEDs and several students graduated from high school. One of the long-term students received his GED and is now enrolled in college.
Each day, the learning center staff communicates with the detained students’ schools to get each student’s assignments. The teachers work with each student to make sure all of the work is completed.
“They feel comfortable and get a lot more one-on-one teaching – like a personal tutor,” Johnson said. “They get to see their accomplishments a little sooner than in a public school and they do pretty well.”
Johnson said because there are far fewer distractions in the detention center, the students concentrate harder on their work.
“It’s neat because a lot of these kids haven’t seen much for their work and that’s why they’ve chosen the behavior they have,” he said. “In here they have found out that they can take a book and they can figure this problem out. When they see the end result, they feel rewarded.”
Director of the detention center, Lt. Ronnie Partlow, said the school also boosts the morale and behaviors of the detainees.