Our Why

Living Skills in the Schools (LSIS) exists because drugs and alcohol abuse costs the United States more than $740 million dollars a year, and one out of four children are exposed to substance abuse in their homes. We make a difference because only 20 percent of students are exposed to effective prevention programming. At LSIS, we give students firsthand experience about the consequences of first use and help them recognize the progression of the disease. LSIS is real-life and allows for credible conversation and trust to begin with students, peers, teachers, and parents which aids in decision-making.

Our Story

Living Skills in the Schools was founded by George “Tony” Allerton in an effort to address the problem of addiction from a prevention standpoint. The program was created and authorized by the Palm Beach County School District Prevention Center in 1999, and our primary target audience began with fifth-graders as they entered their pre-teen years. Since our inception LSIS has been funded and supported by the CRC Foundation as an annual contribution and a grant that supports our programming.

In 2002, LSIS was approached by high school health departments to be included in prevention programming as increasing numbers of students (aged 13-18) were already experimenting or abusing drugs/alcohol. Our goal expanded to continue encouraging those students who had not yet been introduced to drugs/alcohol to continue on their path of good decision-making and coping skills; we also extended our messaging to urge those who were already using to understand the life-threatening consequences associated with peer pressure, denial, and the progression of the disease. In 2005, LSIS made a further expansion into middle school.

In essence we recognized that in the process of educating the children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, we are also educating the educators – many of whom may have little to no direct knowledge about addiction. Thus, by also hearing from our presenters, these teachers become better equipped to address the issue as it arises in their classrooms.

Today, Living Skills in the Schools is approved by the Safe Schools Council to serve kindergarten through 12th grade, in addition to colleges and universities. Our program resources have expanded to include an evidence-based social-emotional learning program, drug trend education, college and coping, and our most recent parent program called Hidden in Plain Sight.

During our inception year, we made only eight presentations, followed by 52 the subsequent year. The program has grown at a rate of approximately 20-25 percent per year thereafter until the 2006-2007 school year, when it doubled. As of the close of the 2017-2018 school year, Living Skills in the Schools reached more than 30,000 students with free programming.

Our Team

Suzanne Spencer
Suzanne SpencerSuzanne is best known as a civic activist and leadership consultant who serves as Executive Director of Living Skills in the Schools. During her four-year tenure as Executive Director, she has led a dynamic team to outcomes that have raised the quality of the program delivery; responded to the needs of educators and students with relevant programming; introduced social-emotional evidenced-based curriculum starting at kindergarten; and has developed a comprehensive program that is progressive, age-appropriate, and real life. Currently, Living Skills in the Schools reaches more than 30,000 students during a school year with free substance abuse prevention resources.
Suzanne has been recognized for her work in the field as the recipient of the Sierra Tuscon Visionary Award; Founder and Former Producer of SUD TALKS; Founder of Project Trailblazer; What Happens After Narcan; Good Sam Good Call; and Co-Founder of Heads Up Florida. She has been a Thought-Leader in the Industry for more than a decade. She has a Masters of Science in Leadership and will complete her Doctorate in Educational Leadership in 2020.

Barbra Quirk

Barbra QuirkI have had the pleasure of being with LSIS for close to two years. I started with Living Skills in the Schools as a program facilitator and have enjoyed the last quarter of the 2017-2018 school year in my new role as Program Coordinator. In this role, it was so rewarding to introduce LSIS and serve more than 60 schools, ending an incredible school year by reaching more than 30,000 students in Palm Beach County.
Our goal at LSIS is to be a trusted resource and partner to our schools; to let students know they are surrounded by leadership, educators, and counselors that care and can guide them to access help; to provide students with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions; and to help students understand the long-term and life-threatening consequences of their decisions. It is powerful to facilitate the Q & A periods and hear students express hope in their own life situations or even recognizing the need to access to help.
On a personal level with a Bachelor degree in Psychology from FSU, LSIS gives me the opportunity to contribute with my passion for impacting micro and macro level systems in our school communities.
A fun fact about me is that I love animals, especially my “little old man”… my 13-year-old Pomeranian, Fluffy.

Jennifer Miller

Jennifer MillerI am new to the Living Skills in the Schools team and excited about my role as the Program Facilitator. In this role, on the operations side, I will work with our school partners to ensure scheduling accuracy, booking confirmations, set up needs and provide community resources to our schools.
On the delivery side, I am excited to be on site with our speakers to help facilitate the Q & A period with the students and ensure the quality control of program delivery.
As an undergrad of FAU school of social work, I also believe that the first step to preventing drug use is to educate the community of the harmful effects that drugs will cause both to the individual and to the family as a whole.
Fun fact about myself: I love adventures. I’ve been skydiving and I love anything outdoors: hiking, kayaking, and camping.