DANA FRICK, GATEWAY ACADEMY ADMINISTRATOR
Dana, a former resident of Indianapolis, is a 2007 graduate of Huntington University, a small Christian university located in northern Indiana. Once she earned her Bachelor of Music degree, she taught private lessons in both voice and piano until the Lord called her to southern Tennessee. While there, she teamed up with On Point!, an abstinence-education organization based out of Chattanooga. Dana worked in surrounding school districts, teaching the importance of self-discipline, self-control, and the value of abstaining from activities that interfere with successful futures. During this time, Dana understood that On Point! was a stepping block to the calling God had placed on her life.
After a year contract with this program, she moved to the panhandle of Florida and in time became acquainted and fell in love with the ministry and mission of Teen Challenge. Dana joined the Bonifay staff in April of this year. Since coming aboard, she has discovered a profound sense of fulfillment through her duties at the center and appreciates the daily opportunity to work closely with teens, combining her love of academia with her passion for God. From time to time one can find her leading worship for staff devotions, Sunday service and Thursday night chapel.
MICAH TOMBLEY – PHYSICAL EDUCATION TEACHER
“Today alone 153,000 people died and more than half of them are unsaved or haven’t even heard of Jesus. That very fact drives me to tears and fills me with sorrow. Sadly, I wasn’t always like this.” Micah grew up in a Christian house hold, his father was a pastor. He has four brothers and four sisters. He had a lot of trouble in school so he turned to sports at around nine. Soon after that the friends he hung out with introduced him to cigarettes and alcohol at the age of eleven, then that turned into smoking pot. About four month or so after turning 14 he was prescribed oxycodone for a broken hand. This was where addiction began. This battle for drugs and rebellion lead him down a road he couldn’t handle.
His parents saw the signs that he needed help and on February 9th 2009 he came through the doors of Teen Challenge. Micah says, “My life was radically changed through the blood of Jesus Christ alone. I accepted him as my Lord and Savior shortly after entering the program. I didn’t realize but that was just the start of my journey.”
After Teen Challenge, life was no walk in the park, there were struggles and Micah found himself crying out to God again. He was in ministry for about 2 years before coming on staff with Teen Challenge in 2013. His vision is to one day be spreading the gospel to the unreached in Africa.
VICKY SYFRETT – PSNC COORDINATOR
Vicky Syfrett, a native of Mississippi, studied photojournalism and police administration at Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College. For the past 28 years Mrs. Syfrett has worked with troubled youth in various educational settings.
Since joining the staff of Gateway Military Academy in June 1998, she has served in school administration and for 10 years as the Character Education Coordinator. She presently works in the Administration office as the receptionist and as part of the Admissions team. Her extensive library provides a wealth of reading, viewing and listening, whether it be issues of personal struggle or biographies of remarkable men and women.
Previous to her present position with Gateway Military Academy, Vicky served as the founder, administrator and a teacher in Washington County Christian School in Chipley, Florida.
Vicky holds a diploma from Stratford Career Institute in sex and drug counseling, and is presently enrolled in the “Social Psychology” course through SCI. She has also acquired certification as a teacher of the nationally used Personal and Group Studies Curriculum of Teen Challenge International, Inc.
She is presently in the process of acquiring certification in “Addiction and Recovery”, “Breaking Free”, and “Caring for Teens God’s Way” through Light University, an online university affiliated with American Association of Christian Counselors.
Vicky’s favorite pastimes include spending time with family, photography, listening and scrapbooking.
BILLY RICE, DRILL ACADEMY INSTRUCTOR
As a graduate of Riverside California Teen Challenge, Chaplain Rice is intimately familiar with the mission and function of residential youth ministry. Billy Rice was awarded a certificate of achievement for Juvenile Hall ministry to teens in the greater Los Angeles area. Chaplain Rice earned certification in September, 2007 in Biblical Counseling at Teen Challenge Ministry Institute in Los Angeles, a two-year college program under Global University. He is also a certified teacher of the national Teen Challenge Character Education Studies. Rice served as an Outreach Ministry Team leader during his enrollment at TCMI.
Chaplain Rice and his wife Marsha joined the staff of Gateway Military Academy in 2007; he now serves as the Drill Academy Commander giving oversight to the daily operation of the Drill Academy. Twice annually, he and his wife Marsha lead Stay Sharp Teams of selected students on annual school “drug awareness” tours. In October of 2011, their Stay Sharp Team impacted over 3,000 students in the Chicago area public schools.
LARRY COLLINS, DRILL INSTRUCTOR
My life begun on May 29, 1957. Two years later I lost my mother. My oldest sister and her husband took the rest of us, which were four more sisters and one brother. My oldest sister and my brother in law had four more boys, who were like brothers to me, because my older brother was about nine years older than me. God sent his angles to watch over our family. In 1976 God sent me a wonderful and beautiful wife. We now have three daughter ages 36, 35, and 14. Our oldest daughters have a total of six children between them both. God has blessed our marriage for 37 years and this year on August 21st it will be 38 years. There has been good times as well as bad times, which have made our family stronger and closer in our walk with God.
The Collins family is truly blessed and we thank Jesus each and every day for our family. We pray for each other as well as others. For the last 12 years it has been a great pleasure to work with the trouble youths. I think you have to be God sent to do this kind of work and with God’s help I will continue to give 110% of myself to helps these youths and the youths in our community. I love making a difference in a child’s life, being a role model, and mentor.
I always say that I’m not perfect but with God’s help I would continue to do my very best while I’m here on this earth. And I hope when my time is over here on earth that God would say, “Job well done my faithful servant.”
Well until that time comes, I will continue to do God’s will, treat people the way I want to be treated, love one another, and help others when they need help. I truly do love God and pray that he continues to make me stronger in his word and show me the right way to do his will. Also, I want to thank Pastor Clay for giving me a chance to continue to serve at Teen Challenge of Northwest Florida. May God bless him and his family and may God bless the Teen Challenge family because truly we are all God’s children.
TONY HENDERSON – DRILL INSTRUCTOR/BIBLICAL COUNSELOR
Tony is a native of Florida. He grew up in church; his mom and dad were pastors so he knew at an early age God was calling him to minister to troubled young men.
In 1999 Tony received certification in corrections. He worked at a juvenile prison as a juvenile corrections officer from 1999-2005. In 2005 he received a promotion to Juvenile Justice Counselor, he did that until 2011. In 2011 the facility was closed due to state budget cuts, at this time Tony pursued a job with Teen Challenge. Tony was previously employed at Teen Challenge in 2003 as a second job. His heart was still with Teen Challenge when he left, but in 2012 he felt he could no longer run from what God had called him to do.
In 2012 Tony joined the Gateway Academy team. He is the 2nd shift supervisor and basketball coach. He and his wife and kids are actively involved in his dad’s church.
Kevin was born in 1960 in Los Angeles, California to good parents that loved each other and loved me a lot. As a child he had no church involvement whatsoever. “We didn’t go to church on Christmas or on Easter. I started drinking alcohol at the age of 9, and I started using drugs at the age of 12.” At the age of 45, Kevin went into Teen Challenge as “a broken, penniless drug addict, alcoholic of over 30 years.” He was there three weeks when God touched him and delivered him from all his addictions. He gave his life to Christ and things haven’t been the same since.
Kevin completed the Teen Challenge program in Sanford, Fl. Nov. 2006, and went to the Teen Challenge International Ministry Institute in Jacksonville, Fl. for 2 years. After completing the Ministry Institute he worked at Tallahassee Teen Challenge as a counselor for 3 years. Kevin has been here since June 2012 serving as a groundskeeper, nighttime D.I., and counselor.
JERRINE BROOKS — FOOD SERVICES MANAGER
Born and raised in Columbus, Indiana to two very young parents. Her parents divorced when her mom was 21 and was left with 3 kids to raise. As the eldest Jerrine took a lot of the responsibility on her shoulders. Her mother got saved when she was 11 and she had her own personal experience with the Lord when she was 13 and has been committed to His Plan for her life ever since.
While going to college Jerrine worked as the Pastors secretary at Columbus First Assembly of God from 1983 until 1990, during that time she held the positions for Children‘s Church Director, Youth Ministries Director and Missionettes Director. In 1986 she partnered with some friends at church to open up New Beginnings Home for Unwed Mothers where she worked as the House mother, cook and birthing partner.
Jerrine was an Independent Living Coordinator for Developmental Services from 1991 until 1996. While working there she became a Foster Parent, specializing in teenage moms and their babies from 1994 until 2004.
In 2008 she became the kitchen manager and cook for Columbus Christian School where she began their breakfast, lunch and snack programs as well as running and staffing all the concessions for the ballgames K through 12th grades. Jerrine also catered many events at the school for well over 400 people. While running the kitchen at CCS she catered the lunches daily for a local private International School and worked the summers at Springhill Christian Camp where they served well over 600 kids daily.
On August 8, 2011 Jerrine brought her son to Gateway, in February 2013 he graduated the program and went on to graduate high school in July 2013. While her son was here Jerrine was offered a position here and decided that it was a door opened by God so she sold everything and moved down here. Jerrine has been here since July 2012 and says, “I love cooking for the boys and sharing with them and giving them loving meals with a mom’s smile.”
RAUL CORNEJO – FACILITIES MANAGER
In July 2011, Raul Cornejo and his wife Claudia entered a new door of ministry at Gateway Military Academy. Raul serves as a Biblical counselor to a number of assigned students as well as the Facilities Manager for our facility
Raul Cornejo is a native of Baldwin Park, California. Although his single mother took him to church faithfully, as a teenager Raul began to drink alcohol and loved to party with friends. But at the age of 19, a fun lifestyle had progressed to a meth addiction which would drive his life for the next 10 years. This addiction tore Raul’s life to pieces and brought him to the brink of homelessness. He recalls the moment when he fell to his knees and cried out to God. God’s answer was clear- “Rise up, take hold, and do not give up!”
On October 19, 2004, Raul entered the doors of Riverside, California Teen Challenge. His life is truly an example of Mark 10:27 which says, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”
Raul went on to attend the Teen Challenge Ministry Institute in South Gate, California, a one year staff training school that serves to equip students to address the needs of those with life-controlling issues. Raul served at Los Angeles Teen Challenge as a Bible teacher and counselor, as well as a food manager over two Teen Challenge centers simultaneously.
ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE STAFF
CHUCK ODUM- PROGRAM MANAGER
Chuck Odum virtually grew up in the military, having a father stationed in Fort Benning, Columbus, Georgia since Chuck was three years of age.
At the age of 22, Chuck recognized the Lord’s call to full-time ministry. But it wasn’t until eight years later, as he attended his grandfather’s funeral, that reality hit him how a life lived “on purpose for the Lord” could impact many. “I realized I wanted my life to be one that made a difference to others”, comments Pastor Chuck.
In 2005, Chuck joined the staff of RiverTown Church in Columbus, Georgia as an ordained pastor. In 2008, Chuck’s family moved to Chipley, Florida where he worked in a DJJ facility for boys ages 16-18.
In July 2010 Chuck joined the ministry of Gateway Military Academy. He presently serves as Program Manager, overseeing the daily operation of campus life for the students in our residential program.
KATIE RICE – ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT/HUMAN RESOURCES/ADMISSIONS
Katie Rice is a native of Washington State, in 2003 she graduated from Western Baptist College in Salem, Oregon (now Corban University) with a BA in English Communications, and a minor in ministry. In December of 2013 she completed studies for her MBA in Human Resources via Corban University’s online program.
Katie served a one-year internship at the Los Angeles County Teen Challenge, a Christian residential ministry to men and women with life-controlling issues. Her passion for Teen Challenge evolved into seven years of ministry and mentoring at their main office. Katie earned her “Blueprint for Workplace Success” instructor certification and the “California Conference for Equality and Justice” certified race facilitator certification. While serving as office manager for LA Teen Challenge, she simultaneously reached out to juveniles at a local recreational facility operated by Los Angeles Teen Challenge.
Katie and her husband Mike they joined the team at Gateway Military Academy in 2010.
Katie serves as the administrative assistant to the director, human resource manager and admissions coordinator.
CHARLES STEWARD, IT INSTRUCTOR, FINANCE MANAGER
Charles Steward has served Gateway Military Academy since June 2009 an instructor to students who desire to learn computer hardware technology. Charles earned his MBA in Information Technology from Western Governor’s University, Salt Lake City Utah in December 2013. He not only services our technology, but manages the operations budget of the facility as well.
Mr. Steward is a 2007 graduate of Southeastern University, Lakeland, Florida, earning a BA in History. Also while at Southeastern, he was mentored in Church/Ministry Administration with Collegiate Masters Corps. He remarks, “During my teen years, I made poor choices which led to rebellion, but through Christ’s love and a wonderful mentor, I gave my life to Jesus Christ and was forever changed. It was soon after that I felt God calling me to work with young people, to minister and help mentor them from making the mistakes I made.”
CLAUDIA THOSS, FAMILY RELATIONS MANAGER
As the “voice” representing the staff members and students at Gateway, Claudia Thoss corresponds with parents on a weekly basis, sending student evaluations, notices of counseling appointments, and any pertinent information regarding a cadet’s progress. Teaming with the Program Manager and the biblical counselors, Claudia ensures a consistent stream of communication with our students’ parents.
Claudia was raised in East Germany by a godly mom who, in spite of an alcoholic husband, taught Claudia and her brother to grow in personal faith. It was difficult losing her father at the age of 14.
As a young teen, Claudia involved herself with mission teams, ministering to youth in churches all over Germany. As she learned that her faith was to be lived “alive”, Claudia found relief from the pain and anger resulting from the loss of her father.
While attending the University of Fulda in Germany, Claudia was introduced to the ministry of Teen Challenge. A six-month internship with Los Angeles Teen Challenge confirmed her passion for working with youth. She returned to Germany to complete her degree in social work, with a focus on education, community outreach and cultural education. Ms. Thoss became involved in an outreach directed toward “skinhead” teens.
In 2002, God opened the door for Claudia to return to Los Angeles Teen Challenge ministries and eventually marry her husband, Raul Cornejo. Together they have embarked through a newly opened door of opportunity at Gateway Military Academy in 2011.
MICHAEL RICE, CHARACTER EDUCATION COORDINATOR
Michael Rice was born in Union City, Ca in 1981. He grew up in a very abusive home with Alcoholic parents. His mom divorced his biological father after years of physical and mental abuse. His Step dad came in the picture when he was 6. As Michael grew up he followed in his older brothers’ footsteps and took their example to the extreme with drug use and burglary. Years went by with the same old rebellious conduct; street living, in and out of jail, eventually he found himself was so strung out on Methamphetamine and so alone that he was contrite and desperate for help.
In 2006 at the age of 25 Michael’s parents told him that a bus ticket to LA Teen Challenge would be the last thing they would do for him. Needless to say, he took the offer. Shortly after entering the doors to Teen Challenge Michael rededicated his life to Jesus. God brought restoration to his family as he continued to press through the program. After graduating he felt lead to do an Internship, which lasted 7 months, following the internship he continued on to Teen Challenge Ministry Institute (TCMI), which is an intense staff training school.
Along the roads of TCMI, Michael met a woman who shared his passion for ministry, they both felt called to WFTC and God made two positions available. Michael and Katie were married a year after coming to Florida. Michael says, “My passion is to encounter youth and divert them from destruction with the power of the Gospel and my testimony. I understand that God has set me a blaze and that my flame is not my own, it is meant to be shared so it can illuminate the world by igniting the hope with in our youth.”