Connecting with Young People

I’m passionate about the youth and young adults in our community and our country. They are literally the future of our nation and our world. Each young person has so much potential to do good and make a difference. For each of them to be successful and reach their potential, I think it is extremely important that they learn responsibility, accountability and respect as early as possible. I have seen too many instances where young lives go “off the track” due to a lack of proper guidance and positive influence.

One of the big reasons I want to serve as your Justice of the Peace is to help young people who appear before the court. What a great opportunity to try to direct a young life in the right direction through a carefully crafted remedy for their youthful indiscretions! I think there are better, more impactful remedies for young adults than levying a fine that Mom and Dad are likely to pay anyway. As your JP I’ll do all I can to provide positive guidance to the youths and young people that appear before the court.

Work with K-8. Over the years, I’ve been a PTSA Secretary and President at my daughter’s middle school for three years, a girls softball coach and more recently a T-ball coach. This past year, I was a coach for the DSYSA Rangers T-ball (six years and under) team. Although the Rangers went undefeated and were league champions, the learning and sportsmanship that were instilled in the players was invaluable in my opinion.

I was particularly fortunate to be able to work with twin boys, Liam and Riley, who were players on the team. They were the youngest members of the team (4 when the season began) and in the beginning their skills were not well developed. As the weeks passed and the season progressed, the other coaches and I were able to work with the boys on basic skills, teamwork, and sportsmanship. I was very pleased to see the improvement each player on the team made, but was particularly pleased with the twins progress because they had come so far.

At the team party after the season ended, Liam and Riley’s mother gave me an amazing and deeply moving note, thanking me for the time I spent with her sons and the impact I had on them. A copy of the note is below. I was both speechless and deeply gratified that I could be such an influence and served as a positive role model for those two men of the future.

I hope that as your JP, I’m able to as effectively teach young people perseverance, self-confidence, validation and serve as a positive role model as I was with these two DYSYA T-ball players.

Work with High Schoolers. For the past two academic years, I’ve had the privilege of working with students at Dripping Springs High School involved in the school’s Mock Trial program. As an attorney advisor I worked for several weeks with a group of students that were participating in the Mock Trial program as either student attorneys or witnesses. The weekend before the event, I met with my team at Mazama’s Coffee at their request to do some final preparation.

The Mock Trial was held in the Hays County Courthouse in Judge Smith’s courtroom. Over 100 high students participated in the Mock Trial as student attorneys and witnesses at the trial or as a juror on one of the seven panels of student jurors. Additionally, dozens of parents and family members attended the Mock Trial. The event went remarkably well and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive from students and parents alike. I felt very blessed to be a part of such a wonderful learning experience for so many of our DSHS students.

Work with Students at Texas State University. At the request of Professor Bill Brittain, I joined the External Advisory Board for the Texas State- National Science Foundation PREM program. Professor Brittain is Chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Texas State and Director of the university’s PREM Program. The objective of the PREM program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation, is to increase the participation of students, particularly minority students, in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) majors. The program at Texas State is focused on the school’s Materials Sciences, Engineering, and Commercialization Program (MSEC), which includes faculty members from the Departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Engineering, and Physics. The other members of the External Advisory Board (EAB) were professors from UCLA, University of Colorado, UT San Antonio, Texas State, the Southwest Research Institute, and an executive from NASA. The EAB meets periodically to review the progress and outreach initiatives of the program at Texas State and to make recommendations for improving the program. The EAB’s written report is sent to the program director at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The feedback Professor Brittain received from NSF was that the EAB had done an excellent job evaluating the TSU PREM program.

It has given me a great sense of accomplishment to be a small part of encouraging college students to believe in themselves and pursue challenging curriculum that will increase their chances of getting high paying jobs after they graduate.

Missionary Outreach to Children in Africa. For the past 12 years my wife Melody and I have sponsored four children in Africa through World Vision, a Christian humanitarian outreach organization (www.worldvision.org/sponsor-a-child). Three of the four children we sponsor through World Vision live in Kenya and the fourth lives in Mozambique. Our monthly sponsor dollars pay for food, shelter, safe drinking water, and education for the children, many of whom are orphans or are from difficult family situations.

Additionally, for the past five years we have been regular donors for another Christian humanitarian group, Cry Cameroon, who run an orphanage in the African country of Cameroon (http://www.crycameroon.org/pages/orphanage.htm). All of these children live in areas of Africa that are ravaged by war, poverty, famine, and disease. Over the years we have contributed tens of thousands of dollars for the health, well-being, and safety of these young people. We firmly believe that by helping these children survive and getting them an education will allow them to become productive members of their respective societies.

Collectively, I believe my involvement in programs like these examples demonstrate my commitment to the youth and young adults of our community and our country. As your Justice of the Peace, I will do my best to fairly decide all matters before me, while trying to provide positive guidance and reinforcement to all, particularly young offenders. I strongly believe that it is much easier to redirect a young person who is heading in the wrong direction than it is for the legal and criminal justice system to deal with that same person after years of wrong doing and harm to society.