Former Windham student becomes successful electrician
TDCJ's offender newspaper, The ECHO, had the opportunity to interview ex-offender Garrett Stanley, who tells a wonderful story of success in life after incarceration. His story documents hard work, motivation and a desire to do well in life.
ECHO: Describe your life before prison.
GS: I did time in the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) from the ages of 14 to 16. I received my GED there at TYC. By the time I was 17 years old I was into drinking and drugs and in TDCJ on a 17-year sentence.
ECHO: Describe your prison educational experience.
GS: I did 12 years on a 17 year sentence from 1994-2006. I was on Luther, Torres and Hughes units during that time.
I attended and completed the electrical trades classes offered by the Windham School District (WSD). I was able to work for the unit maintenance department as an electrician for four years where I obtained invaluable experience on a day-to-day basis at work. I also volunteered and worked as a teacher's aide in the electrical trades classes for one and one-half years.
ECHO: Do you have any special comments about the WSD instructors you had for the courses?
GS: They were all great. They showed patience and kindness. They were very helpful. They taught us even when some of us were unteachable.
ECHO: Describe your life after release in 2006.
GS: At that time, I was assisted by Project RIO. I bought tools. I saw an advertisement in the newspaper, place by an electrical union. I answered the ad. They gave me a skills evaluation test and I scored very well due to the WSD classes and my experience at the Luther Unit. I have now been working for the same contractor for seven years.
ECHO: Describe your current position.
GS: I am a journey man electrician working at commercial and industrial sites, including power plants and water treatment plants.
ECHO: Explain how you think WSD made an impact on your life after TDCJ.
GS: I now have a good job and a good career due to the classes and skills learned through the WSD Electrical Trades program. I give all the credit to WSD such that I can make an honest living. I am a citizen of society, pay taxes and no one can take these things from me.
ECHO: What would be your advice to current offenders?
GS: Educate yourself for your future. Take advantage of every avenue of education available for you. Be hungry for knowledge. Dedicate your time toward an education and skills that can provide a career once released.
Reprinted from The ECHO.
Other Success Stories that may interest you:
Garrett Stanley: Journeyman electrician credits WSD vocational training for chance to re-wire life, enjoy success and freedom - The jobs skills and talents that helped turn his life around came as a result of correctional education in TDCJ. Stanley fortunately fell under the guidance of skilled vocational instructors during his years at the Luther Unit in Navasota; education helped him re-direct his path.
NEW - I began to believe - "I was a straight-F student, and I didn’t think I could learn anything. I had a teacher who wouldn’t give up".
NEW - 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..."
NEW - I can now make a living. I’m free - "The welding program helped me build character. Mr. Perry taught me how to talk like a welder..."
Education changed my life - "These opportunities [GED® classes or learning a trade] are great, but WSD is so much more than that; for me it was a change of life."