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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PRISON EDUCATORS HONORED FOR EXCELLENCE
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Excellence in teaching is being recognized within the state prison system as the Windham School District (WSD) announces the selection of Jody Addy of the Robertson Unit (Abilene) as the 2015 Lane Murray Excellence in Teaching Award winner. Addy and finalists Martha Estrada (Sanchez State Jail, El Paso) and Brent Frailicks (Moore Unit, Bonham) were nominated by their peers and selected through a rigorous screening process. The Lane Murray Excellence in Teaching Award is named for Dr. Lane Murray, pioneer superintendent of the WSD, which was formed in 1969.
“We are proud to recognize the Excellence in Teaching winner and finalists as some of the best correctional educators in the state,” WSD Superintendent Dr. Clint Carpenter said. “Recognizing excellence in teaching is one of the most important things we can do. It is our privilege to honor these top three teachers, along with their peers across the state, for making WSD a success. Their enthusiasm, skill and dedication are inspirational to all of us, and life-changing for their students.”
Winner Jody Addy teaches literacy skills in the Computer-Assisted Instruction (CAI) lab at the Robertson Unit, Martha Estrada teaches a Literacy II/III class at the Sanchez State Jail, and Brent Frailicks is a Cognitive Intervention teacher at the Moore Unit.
These three teachers will be honored at the October WSD Board of Trustees meeting in Austin and will also represent WSD at Correctional Education Association meetings, staff development trainings, and other public gatherings sharing current information about correctional education.
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Excellence In Teaching 2014-2015
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