As part of our ongoing guest series, we have added in Coordinators on calls to help other Coordinators learn from real-world experiences. In March, we spoke to Keliesha Jones who served as Chatham County Coordinator from 2017 until recently where she helped with position transition even while she began a new job. She is in the process of moving to another state, so we’re so glad to have caught her before the big move.
Ms. Jones explained she began the role in 2017, but really continued to build upon the relationship that was already there from the former Coordinator. The most successful relationship was with Ms. Shiley (since retired, but you can read about her here) from Islands High School. Ms. Shiley’s approach to TDS is unique in that she is the high school counselor and built the school’s TDS team from scratch. Ms. Jones explained that the school team had the support and buy-in from administration, didn’t target one group of students, stayed active throughout the year, and helped recruit new schools by holding learning sessions with other counselors throughout the county.
Administrative support was helpful in conducting consistent messaging and outreach activities, especially since there was no class period for the student team to meet as a group. Ms. Shiley’s approach of recruiting freshman and students across all spectrums of athletes, club members, and anyone who showed interest. This approach helped build a reputation throughout the district and other schools quickly began paying attention to the spotlight Island’s enjoyed – locally and through Teens in the Driver Seat awards.
To help bolster this attention, Ms. Shiley utilized her relationships with other counselors and held group meetings where Ms. Jones would help recruit new schools to the TDS program. They used a PowerPoint deck with photos of the Island’s team activities to show how the program can be successfully ran within schools.
Ms. Jones also helped the team by connecting them to local sponsors and partners. Keeping the team rewarded with food, gift cards, and assistance with activities made the efforts an easier task for everyone. She also had a trike and drunk goggles on-hand to conduct activities or to loan out to schools. Ms. Jones also brought up Teen Maze, a large activity that utilizes many community partnerships. It contains a jail inside for “traffic offenders” and a crashed car and role playing with a crash scenario. EMS and law enforcement are heavily involved for this event. More information for these activities can be found through Georgia Governor of Highway Safety, who provides grants to conduct this activity.
Other schools in the area, including schools in Effingham County, also became very successful in TDS, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Shiley and Ms. Jones.
Ms. Jones closed by saying that to her the program is a no-brainer, but it does require the right person with the right passion within the school to make it successful.
We wish Keliesha much success and happiness in her next endeavor!