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Strand, Clapp honored for work with juveniles

Pictured is Carson-Newman’s Tommy Clapp, recipient of the Meretorious Service Award for his involvement with the “Journey” program for youth and parents. The award was presented at the annual Joint Conference on Juvenile Justice. Also honored was the University’s Bonner Center as well as 1962 alumnus Juvenile Court Judge Ben Strand.

-by Steve Marion, courtesy of The Standard Banner

(August 5, 2014)– Jefferson County was well-represented at yesterday’s awards luncheon at the annual Joint Conference on Juvenile Justice.

Juvenile Court Judge Ben Strand (a 1962 Carson-Newman alumnus) won the President’s Award for his “genuine concern for the children and families that come before him.” Tommy Clapp of Carson-Newman University received the Meretorious Service Award for helping lead the innovative “Journey” program for youth and parents, and the school’s Bonner Center won the conference’s Humanitarian Award for its community outreach work.

Over 450 juvenile justice professionals from across the state including 75 judges, were in attendance at the conference at Gatlinburg’s Park Vista Hotel.

Strand, who retires next month, was presented with the award by Teresa Moyers, Jefferson County Juvenile Court Director and president of the Tennessee Juvenile Court Services Association. He has served as General Sessions, Juvenile, and Probate Judge for the county since 1998.

A graduate of the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Strand has also served as a private attorney, circuit court judge, special attorney general for the state, county commissioner, and school board member, as well as adjunct professor at Carson-Newman.

Strand mentors youth at Mountain View Youth Development Center and is active in the Tennessee Bar Association’s Mock Court Competition as a coach at Jefferson County High. In 2009, he received the McCain-Abernathy Memorial Award from the Juvenile Court Judges Conference for dedicated service to the children of Tennessee.

Strand’s involvement with children goes far beyond the courtroom. Annually, he tracks legislation that is of interest to the juvenile and sessions courts and compiles a written report that he distributes across the state.

“The greatest reward of this job,” he said, “is when a young person comes up and thanks you for helping them change their lives.”

Clapp, who operates his own counseling practice in Jefferson City, also works as C-N’s director of first year and conference services. He has led the parenting component of the Journey program.

Journey is an after-school and summer life skills and tutoring class for students and parents, mostly referred by Judge Strand. It uses mentors from the Carson-Newman University Bonner Scholars program, all of whom complete an intensive training program developed by Jefferson County Youth Services Officer Michelle Nix.

The program wraps up with a camping trip on an island in Cherokee Lake. Clapp accompanies the participants, who kayak to the island and spend their time engaging in challenging activities designed to promote self esteem and good decision-making.

“Tommy is flexible and always willing to adapt to the needs of the current group of participants,” according to text accompanying his award. “The Journey program would not be as successful as it is without Tommy’s dedication.”

A Berea College graduate, Clapp also has a Masters of Science in Counseling from Carson-Newman.

The Bonner Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at C-N received the conference’s Humanitarian Award. The Bonner Center works with C-N students and faculty to establish a culture of social responsibility. It places students as mentors and leaders in the Journey program and stepped in to help continue an after-school program for the local public housing authority, which could not afford to continue by itself.

The Bonner Center has 10 community partners, including Jefferson County Habitat for Humanity, Journey, Appalachian Outreach, the BOOST after school program, Boys & Girls Club of Dumplin Valley, Global Seeds, Compassion Coalition, Socially Equal Energy Efficient Development (SEED), Hope Unlimited, and Jefferson Middle School.

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