Isaac White: ‘Life was waiting for me!’
Business owner credits vocational classes as foundation for success after release from prison
“I was 18 years old, convicted of aggravated robbery with a weapon, and knowing I would possibly be in prison until I was 26. I knew I had to make plans for the rest of my life. I knew after I was released, I had to get out and make a living. Life was waiting for me,” remembers Isaac White, a former offender who served time in three facilities in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Today White is a free citizen and president and owner of his own successful electrical contracting company based in Waller, Texas. The company has been in business since September 2013, serving Waller, Washington, Grimes, Austin and Harris counties. White employs three men and says last year’s sales revenue was about $300,000.
“We provide residential homeowners, general contractors and commercial business owners with emergency service, repair work, and new construction and remodeling work. We do honest, good work with integrity, and we get a lot of referrals from clients,” he says. “We do all things electrical.”
White credits the electrical and plumbing training he learned in prison from Windham School District as the foundation of his success.
“Other offenders told me about educational opportunities available through Windham. I knew I needed a trade that would provide me with a solid job to get on with life. I enrolled in a six-month WSD plumbing class at the Clemens Unit and graduated. Then I received a two-year set off and couldn’t go home. I decided to enroll in another vocational class to add to my skills; I was planning for my release, whenever it would be. I graduated from the electrical program at the Luther Unit in 1998. I had found my Windham teachers were real people, and they taught their subject areas really well. They gave me hope for a future career with actual skills, and after 16 years in the trade, I have done well. ”
Following his release in 1999, White hired on for a year with a swimming pool contractor and soon made his move into the electrical field. He also went to the Independent Electrical Contractors Association to attend a four-year apprenticeship program.
“When I graduated, I took a test to acquire a Journeyman Electrical License and later pursued a Master Electrical License,” he says. “I went to school for four years to learn all I could. Knowledge is power and money!”
Along with financial rewards, White enjoys doing his job well and balancing it with family life, which includes a wife and teenage son.
“I love to see the excitement and relief on my customers’ faces when their job is fixed properly and in a timely manner,” he says, “but the most challenging part of what I do these days is balancing everything in my life. I make sure I keep appointments with clients, I make sure I have time with family, and I make sure I keep my reputation at its best for the future of my company.”
White encourages current offenders to use their time to prepare for success after release: “Life is waiting for you!” he says. “Get ready for that day when you walk out those doors. Learn a trade and get your GED and education. And when you get settled and are doing well for yourself, tell someone and share your story. If you can go back and tell those who are still waiting for their chance, let them know that life is waiting.”
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Annual Performance Report SY16 (2015-2016)
Thank you for taking the time to review Windham School District (WSD) programs and learn more about great things happening in correctional education in Texas.
Windham has undergone tremendous change in the past two years. The challenges of teaching in the correctional setting have required our school district to be continually improving course delivery and course offerings to keep students at the top of the achievement curve. Read through WSD’s Annual Performance Report for School Year 2015-2016 (SY16) and you will see a significant range of improvements resulting in greater success for students.
Two years ago Windham developed a plan to dramatically increase the number and type of vocational offerings in our schools while also advancing instructor training. Windham utilized the latest advances in predictive statistical analysis to guide these changes in coursework and to decide which new courses to add.
These new courses have been designed, developed, and implemented to reach even more students while elevating the skill level of the overall training program. This has been accomplished by first offering basic or core courses to students for mastery of basic skills. These basic skills are then applied to a variety of “next step” training within more specialized areas, guiding students to reach for higher achievement and better opportunities for employment. “Next step” training is high level and in high demand. Employers are seeking skilled tradesmen, so Windham is offering many Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math courses to meet the need. For example, Windham is offering courses in copper and fiber optic cabling, Computer Numerically Controlled machinery operations, Electronic Service Technician work, and other areas of employment.
Windham has also increased its success in awarding industry-recognized vocational certifications by more than three times the number accomplished three years ago: Windham delivered training leading to more than 18,000 industry certifications in SY16. Widespread vocational teacher training was also conducted this school year to further strengthen the vocational program while increasing student achievement. By changing the delivery of vocational instruction and improving teacher skill levels, students are receiving more advanced instruction and are better able to build a skill set within their areas of interest.
Life skills courses taught by Windham show a significant reduction in recidivism, particularly within the Cognitive Intervention Program (CIP) classes. The effectiveness of this program, along with that of the pre-release CHANGES program, has also been heightened through changes in content and delivery. With the support of expert researchers in the field of criminal thinking processes, Windham has completely rewritten CIP and CHANGES curriculum. Enhancements and measurable outcome assessments have also been added to these valuable programs. In addition, WSD has trained all teachers of life skills classes using the newest teaching techniques, and we are confident this training will further improve student performance.
Academic programs have also continued to improve through additional teacher training and expansion of services, including improvements for younger students and those with special needs. Through a large investment in technology, Windham has been able to provide computer-assisted learning components to improve student performance through blended approaches to instruction. The performance of students on assessments such as the Test of Adult Basic Education and the High School Equivalency Certificate (HSEC) test has shown improvement in course delivery, translating into student success in many areas. Windham also expanded offerings to reach more students by offering specialized teaching curriculum during WSD summer break. These Elective Personal Enrichment Classes are relevant and of high interest to students, with student response being overwhelmingly positive.
Windham continues to cultivate a higher quality of teaching, improved course offerings, and relevant training opportunities for our student population. As a result, we look forward to continued growth and achievement. It is also our
privilege to partner with other public and private agencies, entities, and individuals who are dedicated to helping incarcerated men and women change their lives and find careers. Great challenges require great cooperation, so we welcome these connections.
WSD is honored by the accomplishments of students who learn skills or obtain training from our classes, using it to reenter society, become contributing citizens, and rebuild families. Your interest and support are critical to meeting these challenges. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Together we’ll strengthen roadways leading to changed lives, a stronger workforce, and a better tomorrow. The possibilities for success are limitless.
Dr. Clint Carpenter,
Superintendent, Windham School District
Current APR 2015 - 2016:
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2014 - 2015:
- 2013 - 2014
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.