Briscoe and Cotulla’s graduation: A step in the right direction

Windham School District (WSD) strives to provide appropriate educational programming and services to meet the needs of the inmate population and reduce recidivism by assisting offenders in becoming responsible members of their communities.

WSD, in partnership with Southwest Texas Junior College (SWTJC), is helping reduce recidivism through education. The fruits of this labor were seen at the Briscoe and Cotulla units’ GED/vocational and college graduation ceremony recently held at the Briscoe Unit.

The program began when the graduates entered in procession to the harmonies of the Briscoe Unit choir and band. As they marched toward their seats, visitors could see pride and honor on the faces of the graduates and hear excitement from family members and friends.

"I know that pursuing your education in this environment was tough and took a lot of commitment," said M. Daughtry, WSD principal at the Briscoe Unit. The same sentiment was echoed by other staff in attendance including teachers, counselors, correctional officers and wardens.

The ceremony acknowledged accomplishments of graduates from various educational programs offered in TDCJ/ WSD. Vocational certificates were awarded for trades in construction carpentry, landscape design, and electrical work, along with GED certificates. SWTJC, in partnership with WSD, awarded graduates certificates in college level construction carpentry, as well as associate degrees. In addition to awarding the graduates certifi cates and degrees for successfully completing their respective programs, the youngest graduate, the oldest graduate, the salutatorian and valedictorian were also acknowledged for their accomplishments.

Porter-img"I’m sure that there are some of my peers who didn’t plan on graduating this way and may think of this graduation as being less than the real thing. But the same amount of hard work that you put into these classes is no different than what they are doing in schools outside of these gates," said E. Porter, the college graduate who gave the commencement address.

"You should be proud of your accomplishments and understand that this was not given to you by chance. You all took the necessary steps required to go to the next level of your lives. You stayed focused in the midst of what can sometimes be a hectic and confusing environment and did what needed to be done," he said.

The college presentations then highlighted the accomplishments of vocational students who strengthened construction carpentry skills by building a double-wide sized model home on the grounds of the unit. The house will be relocated upon completion.

"The structure had to be built small enough to fit through the gates upon completion, but large enough for practical use because it will be converted into a church. We once offered a one-year certificate but now we offer a two-year associate degree that covers more aspects of the trade," said J. Lopez, who teaches the college carpentry program.

Final remarks reiterated the impact of the partnership between WSD and SWTJC.

"This is a great partnership . It’s a golden opportunity for the guys here to pursue their educations and prepare to return to society with something that can help themselves and their families," Daughtry said.

Other Success Stories that may interest you:

Letter from WSD: WSD explains program expansion - In our continuing series on the changes and improvements in the Windham School District (WSD) Vocational Trades and Career and Technical Education certifications, we would like to share WSD’s plan for program expansion. New course lengths, course offerings and training opportunities are becoming available for men and women in TDCJ.

Prison Educators Honored for Excellence Behind the Razor Wire. - (HUNTSVILLE) November 11, 2015 -- Excellence in teaching was recently recognized within the state prison system as the Windham School District (WSD) Board of Trustees honored three outstanding correctional educators during its meeting in Austin. The three finalists in the 2014-2015 WSD "Lane Murray Excellence in Teaching" initiative were nominated by their peers and selected through a rigorous screening process.

Industry employers partner with WSD to provide increased job opportunities - Windham School District continues to build valuable partnerships with industry employers, according to a recent report by WSD Superintendent Dr. Clint Carpenter to the WSD Board of Trustees.

Pablo Gonzales: Gracias a la capacitación enfocada en el trabajo, el gerente de proyecto disfruta de trabajo, familia, vida - "Cuando salí de la cárcel con un delito grave, nadie quería contratarme", dice el ex-ofensor Pablo Gonzales, quien superó las dificultades de construir una carrera después de la liberación del Departamento de Justicia Criminal de Texas (TDCJ). Gracias a las oportunidades educativas, la formación profesional y una fe fuerte, Gonzales es ahora un gerente de proyectos cerca de San Antonio para American Directioning Boring Companies Inc. (ADB). él ayuda a instalar trabajos aéreos y subterráneos de la utilidad y maneja trabajos del cable de fibra óptica de OSP/ISP para los clientes de comunicación en el sur de Austin, tales como Google, Time Warner, AT&T, Verizon y T-Mobile.

Why I Teach for Windham: Brent Frailicks - A new recruitment video entitled "Why I Teach for Windham: Brent Frailicks" is now available on YouTube. Cognitive Intervention teacher Frailicks at the Moore Unit explains why he chooses to be a correctional educator, and his response is an affirmation of the valuable work done by all WSD teachers.

Success Stories

Success Story IconFormer Windham student becomes successful electrician -
Garrett Stanley, a wonderful story of success in life after incarceration.

Success Story IconNEW - Education taught me... - "Education taught me how to think and analyze problems, which helps me daily in my current employment."

Success Story IconNEW - I had given up on myself - "I could barely read or write and didn’t even realize I had given up on myself… a great teacher from WSD taught me how to believe in myself..."

Success Story IconTo a WSD welding teacher from a former offender student -
"I got a job welding and I had to write and just thank you so much for putting me ahead of the game."

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WSD in Images

WSD’s Business and Image Management & Multimedia (BIMM) class offers students the opportunity to learn viable graphic arts and computer skills, helping them prepare for jobs after release.
An offender at the Polunsky Unit prepares for graduation after earning his GED through the Windham School District.
Auto specialization students in a West Texas prison learn auto maintenance skills, preparing themselves for future employment as professional mechanics.
Offenders often experience academic success for the first time in a Windham classroom.
Female offenders in Gatesville, Texas, study to improve their literacy skills during a WSD academic class.
Texas State Board of Education Chair Barbara Cargill congratulates GED recipients during Spring, 2014, ceremonies. “I am very impressed with the program and with the commitment of the staff and teachers,” she said.