CDS: You recently took over as Navarro County Chief of Navarro County Juvenile Probation. What are the main duties of your office?
CG: Our office supervises youth referred to our department by the various law enforcement agencies in this city and of Navarro County. These offenses range from Class B Misdemeanors to first degree felonies. We provide services from beginning of the intake process to court, throughout the probation process. These services are provided with or without court intervention and that depends on the nature of the offense. While on supervision, a youth must follow the rules and conditions of their probation. These rules are set forth by the Juvenile Courts and will address the needs of the youth and their family. Every child we deal with has different circumstances, backgrounds and needs. We make referrals to various agencies throughout Navarro County to address these needs, whether it may be counseling, placements and/or classes. Each child referred to our agency is assigned a Juvenile Probation Officer who will guide the youth throughout their term of probation.
CDS: What makes you the right fit for the position?
CG: I’ve worked in the field of probation for approximately 22 years with 20 of those in Juvenile Probation. During those 22 years, between Melanie Hyder, Barbara Coy and Chris Aldama, I’ve had three excellent directors which I have had the opportunity to observe and learn from. I’ve seen what works. I’ve seen what it takes for a youth to overcome a negative episode/event in their life, put that event behind them and move on.
CDS: Tell us about your background in education and the workforce?
CG: I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of North Texas. While in college, I did some substitute teaching and volunteered as a mentor with Denton County middle schoolers. When graduating college, Chief Melanie Hyder hired me as a Juvenile Probation Officer which ended up being an awesome experience. During that time, I very much enjoyed working with kids and trying to help them out. But after working in Juvenile Probation for a few months, I received the opportunity to teach and coach at Corsicana High School on emergency certification. While in college, I always wanted to be a teacher and a coach, so I left probation and went that direction. Since I was on emergency certification, I was required to go back to school and obtain my teaching certificate. At that time in my life, going back to school and becoming a student once again was the last thing I wanted to do. And before going into teaching, I had very much enjoyed my time at juvenile probation. So at the end of the school year, I called Melanie and asked to come back, she said yes, and I have worked in the field of probation ever since.
CDS: What do you intend to change? What will stay the same?
CG: I inherited an amazing staff. JPO’s Jana Miller and Amy Chavez are two of the best. They both deeply care for the kids they work with, motivated and know how to do their jobs. I back off and let them do their thing. We staff each other’s cases often. If there are ever any questions, concerns or ideas, we all get together, discuss and bounce ideas off of each other. Office Administrator, Genesis Aviles is the backbone of the office. She is the one who keeps this place organized and running smoothly. Those three are truly remarkable and has made my transition a very easy one. We’ve implemented a few changes here and there, but if it’s not broke, I’m certainly not going to come in and start making major changes just for the sake of making changes.
CDS: What is your favorite thing about your career?
CG: Any success stories. I love when a kid takes the time, years later, to come back to the department for a visit. It gives you a great feeling to hear about their jobs, their kids, their lives. There is not a more rewarding feeling than to see a kid who hit a rough patch in their life, grow up and successfully put it together. I can go back to when I was a teenager. I was far from perfect and made several mistakes. I’m glad that period of time did not define me for the rest of my life. It’s the same for most of the kids we work with. Juvenile probation is about offering and providing services to kids that are having issues, giving them a chance to learn from their mistakes, move on and become successful themselves.
CDS: What is your advice to parents to keep kids out of trouble?
CG: Hold your kids accountable. Enforce rules of both the home and the community. So many parents tell me how their kids dislike them because they are trying to enforce rules. I’ve learned that these types of parents, for the most part, usually do a good job when it comes to keeping their kids out of major trouble. Honestly, when I was in my latter teenage years, my mom was not my friend. She was an enforcer. She did all she could to hold me accountable and see to it that I followed rules. I didn’t like it at the time. However, once I got into my 20’s, I respect all of her efforts so much more. Now that my wife and I have two sons of our own, I very much appreciated all that she did for me.
CDS: What did you learn from Melanie Hyder and how will you apply that
knowledge moving forward?
CG: As I stated in the article about Melanie’s retirement. She taught us, as Juvenile Officers to go above, beyond and do right by the kids that we work with. In other words, do not just go through the motions. If/when they make mistakes, hold them accountable, but at the same time, encourage and congratulate them on their successes. Always push them in the right direction. See to it they receive whatever services they might be need to help them. Not all, but many of the kids we deal with, do not have the best home lives. Our educators do an amazing job, but they have so many youth that they deal with on a daily basis, and many times are spread thin. Sometimes a kid’s Juvenile Probation Officer is one of the most stable and influential person involved in that youth’s life.