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:

Why teach offenders in Windham School District? - "Correctional education is important because someday these guys are going to be my neighbors. They are somebody's child, somebody's father, and somebody's brother. We need to help them get there. They are going to be back in society, and I want them to be productive citizens. … so I need to help them -- or we need to help them – I can't do anything by myself. I expect my students to learn respect, empathy and the ability to succeed."

Austin businesswoman lists education, faith, sobriety as powerful life savers - Education, faith, sobriety and determination rewrote the dramatic story of Austin's Tina Harryman, a successful businesswoman who overcame substance abuse and incarceration.

Preparing tomorrow's workforce for industry: TIC training manager explains benefits of WSD partnership - "As a company, our partnership with institutions like Windham is imperative because we are so short handed in the industry. We have to look everywhere we can to provide any amount of training that helps us get somebody to where they need to be overall to benefit our company. The training program that WSD has gets them a step closer to where we need them to be.

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.

Employment Opportunities and Free Bonding Services

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Success Stories

Success Story IconNEW - 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".

Success Story IconCognitive Intervention Success Story -
"I graduated from Cognitive Intervention and the course has had a major impact on me and my behavior".

Success Story Icon NEW - I learned to change my perspective - "It’s the education I learned in Cognitive Intervention class that changed me. I learned to change my perspective."

Success Story IconNEW - They didn’t give up - "It makes me feel really good to know that these guys aren’t giving up just because they’re in prison."

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WSD in Images

Each day WSD correctional educators pass through prison gates across Texas to work with men and women incarcerated within TDCJ.
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.
Auto specialization students in a West Texas prison learn auto maintenance skills, preparing themselves for future employment as professional mechanics.
Female offenders in Gatesville, Texas, study to improve their literacy skills during a WSD academic class.
An offender at the Polunsky Unit prepares for graduation after earning his GED through the Windham School District.
Vocational and academic skills are integrated in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, such as this Small Engine Repair class in Huntsville, Texas.