Bench Buddies Project “Courts” Downtown Miami Charter School Students

Bench Buddies Project “Courts” Downtown Miami Charter School Students

Prominent legal community leaders promote literacy with young students

MIAMI, Fl. (Dec. 10, 2015) – Often a visit to court is associated with difficult circumstances in a young person’s life and could cause children, especially at a young age, to have negative feelings about the legal system. The Bench Buddies Project at the Miami-Dade County Children’s Courthouse is a project initiated by the judiciary and Susan Somers, Esq. of the Guardian ad Litem Program aimed at changing that perception while promoting literacy among some of the youngest citizens in Downtown Miami. Each month local judges, lawyers, guardian ad litem and others related to dependency court spend time reading to Kindergarten and first grade students at Downtown Miami Charter School. On Dec. 16, at 8:45 am, Judge Cindy Lederman and Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia are among the team who will read Polar Express and bring holiday cheer to the students. This month, students will also receive a book as part of a partnership with Scholastic.

“This is such a unique opportunity for our students,” said Rebecca Dinda, principal of Downtown Miami Charter School. “By meeting these community leaders at an early age in a fun and friendly setting, students are able to form a more positive perception of the legal system through its most important ambassadors.”

The Bench Buddies project will continue each month through May 2016.

The remaining scheduled dates are as follows:

1/27, 2/24, 3/30, 4/27 and 5/25 – All scheduled to start at 8:45 a.m.

“We are so happy to have the Bench Buddies team choose our school as a partner this year,” added Dinda. “Our students benefit from having positive role models share their time as well as receive books to take home and enjoy. Owning their own book is an important factor in promoting literacy – especially during a long holiday break when students may go weeks without having a book to read.”

Downtown Miami Charter School is part of the Charter Schools USA Inc. (CSUSA) family of schools. The school has earned an “A” grade since 2011. The school is governed by The Downtown Miami Charter School, Inc. which was founded by a diverse group of Miami based board members, involved with Downtown Miami growth and sponsored by the Downtown Development Authority of Miami. The intent was to provide a first rate academic school option for inner-city students and families who work in the downtown area who wanted to see their children attend a quality school nearby. The board’s current members are Matthew Gorson, Meredith Nation, Sharmaine Tyler-Luke, Javier Betancourt, Carlos Migoya, Tina van der Ven, Julio Piti and Christina Crespi.

CSUSA, the first education management company to receive district accreditation through AdvancED, is one of the nation’s leading charter school management companies. CSUSA currently manages 76 schools in seven states serving more than 70,000 students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. CSUSA innovative educational advantages include advanced technology, meaningful parental involvement, student uniforms, consistent and fairly enforced discipline policies, highly qualified and motivated staff, community focus, integrated character education and high academic growth and performance. For more information about Downtown Miami Charter School, visit


Media Contact:

Colleen Reynolds, APR – Public Relations Counselor for Downtown Miami Charter School

Office: 239-437-0040
Cell: 239-849-6400

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