Juvenile Detention Center Director Speaks Print Email

Incarcerated teens in Whatcom County know her as "Sully", the teacher who welcomes them to the JDC, weaving in some academic support during their stays. Suzanne's work and that of the JDC Book Club was highlighted April 19th at the Whatcom County Library Foundation's Branch Out Dinner.  The Foundation supports the JDC Book Club, a monthly event where WCLS staff read a book with a group of 6 JDC students.

In her speech, Suzanne reminded us all of the importance of celebrating the small steps in working with this population of kids.  Here is an excerpt from her presentation.    Enjoy! -- Tamar

So, what hope can we have for these students? Well, if we spend our time looking

for big turn-arounds, we’ll all burn out fast. In my profession working with youth

on the fringe, we learn to look for the small reward -- the youth who at first

declares he doesn’t read books, and then by the end of his month’s stay, is

checking out four books each library visit. The youth who comes in sullen and

silent, and after a week at our school, begins to open up and talk, and one day even

smile. The youth who actually follows up on a transition plan we’ve worked on and

when released heads over to BTC to find out about the GED program. We plant

seeds. Many, many, seeds. We water them with our kindness, our concern, and our

respect. We shine the light of school success on them. And sometime, somewhere,

maybe one of those seeds will sprout and begin to grow, and a whole new and

productive path will open for that youth. I believe the Library Foundation’s Book

Club plants these seeds as well.  -- Suzanne Harris