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Through Our Eyes

Reports from student journalists at Melrose Elementary, John Hopkins Middle and Lakewood High schools in St. Petersburg

No gates no guards

Jade Smith | SNN



Lakewood High School's new algebra teacher Adam Joerres says that the difference between working at Lakewood rather than the Pinellas County jail - his former place of employment - is that he doesn't need a guard to open a door for him.

After working the last semester in jail helping students get their GEDs, Joerres finds himself in a different environment at Lakewood. He says that the main difference between working here than the jail, and that students here get more free time.

Originally hired at the jail to teach ESOL, a program for students who don't speak English as their primary language, Joerres went on to teach math, science, and English to the student inmates depending on their needs.

"We had people who went through the system pretty quickly in terms of getting their GEDs, and we had people who couldn't even do division. It was drastically different," he said.

Some everyday things Joerres saw in the jail were just normal interactions between the guards and the inmates. He said he didn't see too many crazy things on the day-to- day basis.

"I think the biggest thing was when they have to transport an inmate that is A- status - the ones who are shackled at all times and have to have a guard with them at all times. They shut down the hallways, they shut down everything else. So it kind of slows everything down but that doesn't happen too often," Joerres said.

Freshman Nick Hampton, who has Joerres for algebra, said that Joerres is a nice teacher most of the time. Hampton said Joerres' algebra classes are harder than most, but that's because he is stricter than most teachers.

"He's more direct and tries to get to the main point," Hampton said.

Lakewood Principal Erin Savage said when hiring teachers, Lakewood is always looking for "highly qualified, motivated and passionate teachers." She said Joerres not only portrayed the qualities of a good teacher, but he also expressed an interest in coaching and participating in other extracurricular activities.

Savage said she has observed Joerres talking and interacting with students, as well as taking time to expose them to real-world situations and teachable moments.

"When I see a teacher using moments in class to go that extra mile to reach students, it's always a positive," Savage said.

Savage said that the fact that Joerres worked in the Pinellas County jail was not a factor in hiring him, other than the fact that he taught in the Dropout Prevention Program there.

"We felt that his experiences teaching outside the box and motivating non-traditional students to learn algebra would be a great asset to our students," she said.

So far, Savage said Joerres is doing a great job teaching.

"We conduct weekly walkthroughs and he is always assisting the students whether it is during the computer portion or teacher facilitator portion of the class," Savage said.


[Last modified: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 3:28pm]


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