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FBI Announces 2009 Recipient of Director’s Community Leadership Award

FBI Jackson December 11, 2009
  • Supervisory Special Agent Jason Pack (601) 948-5000

On Friday, December 11, 2009, Daniel McMullen, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Jackson Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) awarded the 2009 Director’s Community Leadership Award to Cheryl Keeton Shelton, a teacher at Byram Middle School in Byram, Mississippi. The presentation took place during the Jackson Division’s All-Employee Conference.

Since 1990, the FBI has publicly recognized the achievements of individuals and organizations within the areas of drug and violence education and prevention by presenting them with the Director’s Community Leadership Award. In 2009, the FBI again presented this award and included for consideration those individuals and organizations actively involved in terrorism, crime, gang, and violence prevention and education.

The Jackson Division of the FBI nominated Ms. Shelton for the Director’s Community Leadership Award for 2009 in the category of work within the community’s school system while demonstrating leadership to advance terrorism, crime, drug, gang, and violence education awareness and curriculum development.

The Jackson Division’s nomination for Ms. Shelton was written as follows:

Cheryl Keeton Shelton is a sixth grade Language Arts Teacher at Byram Middle School in Byram, Mississippi. She has been a teacher since 1985, and has taught at Byram since 2002. Ms. Shelton is a graduate of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi. Ms. Shelton is also a 2009 graduate of the Jackson Division’s FBI Citizens’ Academy.

For the past 16 years, Ms. Shelton has helped raise funds for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program and the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program for the Hinds County, Mississippi Sheriff’s Office. These two programs provide children participants with skills they need to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs and associated violent activities. The programs are led by police officers and consist of a series of classroom lessons that teach children, kindergarten through 12th grade, how to resist peer pressure and live productive, drug and violence-free lives. Ms. Shelton has served as Secretary for the D.A.R.E. Board of Directors.

Ms. Shelton has also organized her sixth grade class to be “Military Buddies,” by preparing goodie boxes for soldiers assigned to Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Ms. Shelton, this act of kindness encourages her students to consider others instead of themselves. The first goodie box was sent in 2004 to one soldier in Iraq. Now, her class sends approximately 55 boxes per month and the number is increasing. Numerous thank you e-mails have been received from the soldiers and Ms. Shelton reads each of them to her students. Some of the soldiers have commented that the students are truly “Little Great Americans,” and others called the students, “Our Little Angels.” The goodie boxes contain letters, cards, drawings, candy, crackers, peanuts, socks, foot powder, books, gum, and other non-perishable items. Ms. Shelton encourages her students to use synonyms and other new words in their letters to the soldiers, thereby enhancing their English and Language Arts skills. She and her sixth graders were honored when one recipient of the goodies boxes visited them during the 2008-2009 school year. The soldier thanked each class of students and express how appreciative he and his fellow soldiers were to have received the thoughtful packages.

Ms. Shelton and the 120 sixth graders at Byram Middle School were honored on February 13, 2009, by the United States Army with Freedom Team Salute (FTS) commendations at a special ceremony held at the school. They were honored for sending Valentine’s Day goodie boxes to soldiers in Iraq and at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. They were also honored by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour who signed a proclamation declaring February 13, 2009, “Byram Middle School and Military Buddies Day.”


  • February 13, 2009 - Governor Haley Barbour signed a Proclamation declaring February 13, 2009, to be “Byram Middle School and Military Buddies Day,” due to the efforts of teacher, Cheryl Keeton Shelton and her sixth grade class.
  • February 13, 2009 - Cheryl Keeton Shelton and each member of her sixth grade class were honored by the U.S. Army with the Freedom Team Salute (FTS) commendations.
  • An article about the FTS award was published in the Guard Detail, December 2008-March 2009 magazine.
  • 2005 - Cheryl Keeton Shelton was awarded the Hinds County, Mississippi Sheriff’s Star of Community Service.

Cheryl Keeton Shelton (12/11/09)