When talent meets passion, magical things can happen in the workplace…even when there are unique and sometimes great challenges. Managing programs involving teenagers trying to find their place in the world might be intimidating for most, but for Southlake’s Teen Court Coordinator Dana Kirkland, it’s what she was “meant to do.”
Dana’s love and respect for young people, coupled with meaningful work experience and a quest to get it right, is extraordinary. And the Teen Court program works beautifully as a result.
Dana was a teacher in New Mexico for 26 years before retiring. She taught 4th and 5th grade in general subjects and 6th and 7th grade in Math. In 2016, Dana relocated to the DFW area. She happened to see the job posting for Teen Court Coordinator and immediately pursued and got the job.
She has brought her classroom management, public speaking, and conflict mediation skills to her daily work. Dana is creative and determined and gets the job done, even when circumstances have required her to regroup.
“During the Covid-19 pandemic, Dana went above and beyond to find ways for teens to participate and fulfill their obligations while still learning from their experience. Where a lot of teen courts failed during that time and are no longer functioning, she was able to manage the program and make it successful,” said Kristin McGrail, Municipal Court Manager.
Writing essays was one option for teens to complete service hours. The topics were varied and always thought-provoking, all with the intention of getting the teens to reflect on their choices. Dana has read hundreds of papers in the past two years and has provided valuable feedback to the teens regarding their papers.
Dana does everything she can to make the teen court experience meaningful and enjoyable for everyone involved. Whether cultivating new community service work sites, coordinating training for teen attorneys, or organizing a professional conference, Dana uses her considerable skills to support adolescents as they prepare for adulthood.
For bringing a lifelong passion for education to the job and quietly working each day to make a difference with local teens, Dana Kirkland has been identified as one of the City of Southlake’s Unsung Heroes.