We speak with Melissa Svigelj-Smith, graduate fellow at University of California at Santa Cruz, about her experience teaching high school students awaiting case outcomes at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center. Meaningful communication with students’ schools about records and students’ social emotional needs was often very difficult. Ms. Svigelj-Smith talks about the ethical dilemma of wanting to advocate for improved resources for students without wanting more money to go into a system that kids should not be in in the first place.  And in many cases, in Cleveland and throughout the country, prosecutors charge children as adults depriving them of any access whatsoever to educational resources.


00:00-00:45 Intros

00:45-04:01 Young people at the juvenile detention center

04:01-05:30 Structure of the educational program

05:30-07:51 School of One

07:51-11:51 Communication with high schools about student needs

11:51-13:40 Offering social emotional support within the detention center

13:40-14:37 Cultural responsiveness; effects of Ohio’s high-stakes testing

14:37-16:24 Interactions with students’ families

16:24-17:02 Transitions back to high schools

17:02-17:47 Mentorship

17:47-22:00 Ethical issues

22:00-25:13 Ending adjudication of young people to adult jails

25:13- Outro


Click here to see the full transcript of this episode. 

Soundtrack by Poddington Bear