Cypress Creek Academy Advisory Council Meeting

Cypress Creek Academy Advisory Council Meeting

One of our schools that I greatly enjoy visiting and sharing about is the Cypress Creek Academy, which is also a 96 bed High & Maximum-Risk Male State Juvenile Detention Center located in Lecanto.  While nearly none of the resident students are from Citrus County.  Citrus County Schools is responsible for these students and works in partnership with TrueCore (the company that manages CCA) and Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

I have been the School Board member on Cypress Creek’s school/community advisory council and visit the school a number of times throughout each school year. What often shocks people when they visit Cypress Creek is that is has some impressive learning taking place.  Many are astonished that even though it as a detention center it also resembles a school setting.

Many of the students at Cypress Creek have made some extremely poor choices prior to being brought to CCA.  The students at Cypress Creek range in age from 15-21 years old and will be at the Academy between 18-36 months.  Cypress Creek Academy is recognized in the DJJ system as one of the most successful programs in the state. While Citrus Schools works to support Cypress Creek students and staff, it is the leadership and staff at Cypress Creek that are the reason for the success. At the center of this leadership team is TrueCore Principal of Cypress Creek Academy Robert Cummins or as he is referred to by most at Cypress Creek, “Coach”.

At this quarter’s advisory meeting Principal Cummins shared of the many recent successes of their students.  He shared that traditional Florida high school graduation courses are offered as are G.E.D. courses. Principal Cummins talked about the career pathway programs that students at Cypress Creek that provide career skills and future opportunity to students.  The academy has a successful Home Builders Institute program. This program provides the student the opportunity to get career certified in a number of construction areas including OSHA training. Principal Cummins explained that the students that have completed the HBI programs, near 100% of them have had job placement after leaving Cypress Creek.  The academy also offered Truck Driving and Equipment vehicles training using computer simulators and now will have a forklift on site.  Students can complete all levels of driving training and certification up to the actual State Driving Test.

Many of Cypress Creek students in addition to high school credit focus on vocational course options, but for some that have completed high school either at Cypress Creek or before, they apply and attend colleges virtually.

Obviously not all of these students are prepared academically to attend college or vocational programs. These students may have learning disabilities or other learning challenges and so Principal Cummins’s staff provide a number of remediative strategies to help increase the students’ academic knowledge. The proof in Cypress Creek’s success is that while statistically nearly 50% of youth sadly reoffend and return to a Juvenile Detention Center, Cypress Creek students have had far fewer, with a reoffending rate of approximately 35%.  Again testament of staff and leadership.

Coming soon… FIRST MAN

Coming soon… FIRST MAN

A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong…

As President John F. Kennedy so well said during his “moon speech” at Rice University in Houston on Sept. 12, 1962, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”  It is challneges and achivments such as the first man to walk on the moon is just another example of what I feel makes our country great.

First Man is a new film looking at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The film is scedule for release on October 12, 2018.

Watch the trailer here:

Massullo Legislative Wrap-up

Massullo Legislative Wrap-up

On Monday afternoon I had the pleasure of attending State Representative Dr. Ralph Massullo’s Legislative wrap-up at his office in Lecanto. He was very kind to recognize me and praise our schools.

I greatly appreciated Rep. Massullo’s reflections about public education. Rep. Massullo shared, that education is the most important work that the legislature is and should be doing.

Rep. Massullo said, “as I listen to educators it is clear that education is NOT a one size fits all”.

Rep. Massullo also shared about school safety and mental health and the work the Legislature has been doing. He expanded that the Legislature is looking to continue improving options for School Boards in school safety and mental health.  Rep. Massullo explained that hopes in the coming legislative session that the state will strengthen some laws, he said, “mentally unstable people should not have firearms… I will support legislation that will do just that

I am grateful for the work Rep. Massullo is personally doing to improve career pathways for high school students and provide alternative options to high stakes testing. Rep. Massullo is looking to continue running positive common sense education legislation this coming session and I am pleased to assist him and his team in anyway.

Happy Constitution Day and Constitution Week

Happy Constitution Day

…Founders Month and Constitution Week

Each September 17th Constitution Day is observed in Citrus County Schools along with schools all over our beloved nation. Constitution Day commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution by thirty-nine courageous men on September 17th, 1787.

In 2004 the U.S. Congress passed a law setting aside September 17th as Constitution Day in our nation.  The law also requires that at least three hours of instruction must be on the U.S. Constitution during the last full week of classes in September in public schools.  For Citrus School instructional calendar this means Founders Month and Constitution Week in Citrus County School is celebrated beginning on Monday, September 17th and running through Friday, September 21st, 2018.

During this week students in each of our 22 Citrus schools will participate in both instruction and/or celebration of our great Constitution. I enjoy visiting our schools during Constitution Day & Week and seeing the many activities our schools and teachers do honoring our Constitution and founding fathers.

9/11 Remembrance Day

9/11 Remembrance Day

Important Message from Superintendent of Schools on CCSO Arrest

himmelImportant Message from Superintendent of Schools on CCSO Arrest

Update as of 10:24 A.M. 9/6/18: We have just been notified by the Citrus County sheriff’s office that an arrest has been made in the case involving the Snapchat photo of a person with a weapon.

(Follow this link to CCSO post on the arrest:

The following is an important message from Superintendent Sandra “Sam” Himmel:

My staff received information about a Snapchat photo circulating on social media Wednesday night of an unidentified person holding a weapon with the caption “Don’t go to school tomorrow. CSMS be careful.” We are working with the Sheriff’s office to identify the individuals responsible for the post. The Citrus County School system investigates all threats and if the individuals responsible are students, they will be held accountable under the student code of conduct as well as possible criminal charges as determined by the Citrus County Sheriff’s office. There is an increased security presence at Citrus Springs Middle School today. I encourage parents to have conversations with your students regarding the seriousness of this type of behavior. Students should never repost photos of this nature and should always contact school personnel or the Sheriff’s office.