Letter from WSD: WSD explains program expansion

Reprinted from The ECHO

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.

In the past, courses in vocational trades matched the course requirements for Windham, rather than just the hours needed for certifi cation. While completing the total hours in a course will provide additional skill practice, many students fi nished the skills much faster than the course was completed. We are working with the craftsmen in our schools to determine the adequate number of course hours for skill completion and will be reducing the number of hours for most of our courses. Rest assured that you will get the appropriate number of hours that industry requires for certifi cation, along with enough practice time to become comfortable with the skills in the classroom.

The course can then be completed with fewer contact hours in most cases. Those individuals with a short-term projected released date may now be able to complete a course, which was not possible before this change.

Additionally, we will be separating the basic “core” skills for most National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) certifi cation classes. These “core” classes carry a certification which employers want for entry level workers. After completion of the “core”, the student may choose a specifi c NCCER trade such as welding, plumbing, electrical technician, pipe fitting, or construction carpentry as a continuation of the trades up through NCCER Level I. These classes will also be shorter in duration than in the past.

We are also adding more Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) instructors so students may enroll in the short OSHA training that is required by so many employers prior to being hired in the industrial trades. The OSHA classes will be open to most offenders and not limited to just those with the typical Windham priority criteria. Now almost anyone can work to improve their skills to get a high-paying job.

Windham is also adding a significant number of valuable additional training opportunities in the technical fields. Copper and fiber optic cabling, audio visual installation, energy management system programming and telecommunications are several industry-recognized certifications that will be added to many of the state jail units. With these courses, students will be able to land high-paying jobs in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) career industries. Additionally, classes to support these career clusters, such as Electronics Service Technician, will be added to course offerings. Students who have time to complete additional certifications can now add technology installation to their skill set.

Windham has also started adding course support materials for those who may not be enrolled in WSD. Self-study vocational certification programs are being piloted on some units. This will be accomplished with the addition of industry trade code books to the libraries for individuals with a state license in a trade. Prior to their release, these individuals will be able to catch up on changes to the codes.

In still another pilot program, Windham is working closely with TDCJ to offer self-paced training programs leading to industry recognized certifications. In these classes, students will be able to check out study guides and materials for selected certifications and when they are ready, put in an I-60 requesting testing. At that time, they will be scheduled for a certification test by Windham.

As you can see, there are many exciting additions and changes to the Windham programs. We want you to be successful in reentry and are working closely with TDCJ to provide opportunities for you to become job ready improve your academic ability and develop a plan to change your life on release. Please consider these opportunities. We are proud to help you prepare for employment, make life changes and create your own success story.

We are Windham. Are you ready to join us?

Success Stories

Success Story IconNEW - Making a positive impact - "I am very excited to be learning a new trade and to be securing employment for myself in the 'real world.'"

Success Story IconWelding Success Story -
"I'm thankful for the welding program I was allowed to take while locked up".

Success Story IconIndependent Data Contractor Success Story -
"Due largely to the training I received from my teacher, I am able to be an independent ...

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

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WSD in Images

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Offenders often experience academic success for the first time in a Windham classroom.
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