Telford Unit offenders change thinking patterns

By WSD Teacher Pam Patterson

Telford Unit offenders change thinking patterns

The U.S. military has advertised that they are looking for "a few good men." The saying insinuates that there are many who may answer the call to be proud, brave and courageous in the face of fire; however, there are only a few out of the many that will continue to stand undeterred under the breath of adversity. Telford unit offenders quoteLike this saying, there are only a few that have stood through months of hard testing and come out victorious for a notable cause: the freedom to choose right thinking and right behavior. Windham School District's Cognitive Intervention program at the Barry Telford Unit in New Boston graduated a "few good men" recently.   Some may not know that at the Telford Unit offenders designated as G-4s are able to attend a Cognitive Intervention class. G-4 offenders are not typically the best behaved offenders. A typical class may begin with 20 stalwart G-4 young men who are ready to change, ready to leave the past behind, and ready to make permanent changes to incorrect thinking patterns. They want to prevent a life of perpetual missteps. At the end of months of lockdowns, building turmoil, and day and day encounters with officers or other offenders, the members begin to drop like petals from a flower. Some believed they could be successful by riding the fence and the winds of true change blew them back to where they began. Although those that remained struggled through personal challenges, they stayed their course and they finished this part of their journey. It is hoped they will continue on to personal freedom by using their endowed gift of personal choice to remain free.

 One of the last classes to graduate went from 20 students to 10 students after four months. While the word 'failure' may erupt about the program, the undeniable evidence of remaining students' fortitude is their elevated G-2 statuses. The movement towards leaving prison is marked by a determination to never return.

As a cognitive instructor, I want to publically commend each student that passed the test of longevity and character to receive a certificate. Many students who previously would allow fits of rage and indignation to take over their lives, made conscious decisions to not allow emotions to rule the rest of their lives. They made a decision to change.

I feel each student that received a certificate earned it by doing what is necessary to mature by making adult decisions to be personally responsible. "If imprisonment enables nothing else, it affords us time to stop and think," said student K. Hall.   "Are the decisions we are making going to meet our needs over time? If the answer is 'no', and we continue to commit wrong acts, we have sacrificed our reality for fantasy. We have to understand that results take time. We might not receive our penalty for our acts today, but it inevitably is coming."

Hall and others in the class now are writing new chapters in their book of life. They are creating their own happy endings.

What a beautiful way to begin a chapter in a life that was previously littered with pages of pain. It is our hope that all young men and women incarcerated in this state can grasp the importance of changing destructive thoughts in order to achieve that elusive thing that many miss in life… peace of mind and spirit. Change your story. Change your thoughts. Change your life.

 

Reprinted from The ECHO.

 

Other articles that may interest you:

Teacher Recognition 2015 - WSD teachers are changing lives daily within the confines of Texas prisons, using education and job training to help transform offenders into productive members of society. The accomplishments of our teachers are life-altering and long-lasting. They make a difference.

Make a positive difference in countless lives through the 2015 State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC)!

SECCSECC is a two-month charity fundraiser that allows state employees to conveniently make monetary donations to charities of their choice, helping those in need. The SECC will be held Sept. 1 – Oct. 31. SECC involves many state agencies and entities, and WSD is a well-known as a generous supporter. Last year WSD employees contributed an amazing $11,884, proving WSD a leader in giving.

WSD employees participate by making gifts through the Windham campaign, no matter where they work geographically.  WSD employees may participate through job assignment sites to include TDCJ facilities statewide, as well as WSD administrative offices in Huntsville. Unit and regional employees will participate in the WSD campaign at their job site.  Administrative employees in Huntsville will participate in the WSD campaign at their job site.

Donations may be made through payroll deduction or via check and cash.  Each WSD unit campus should designate an SECC contact person, who will then pass on campaign information. Make this person known to the WSD unit staff.   

All employees are invited and encouraged to join the WSD effort for SECC and easily make a great difference in many lives!  

Note to employees:  Specific campaign details will be communicated to units by email. WSD employees should be careful this year to mark their donation materials with “WSD” at the top of all forms, to differentiate from TDCJ’s separate contributions.

WSD & TDCJ: Gatesville tour for Governor's staff focuses on partnerships, successful re-entry efforts - Board of Trustees Chairman Dale Wainwright and Windham School District staff hosted eight members of Governor Greg Abbott's staff for a tour of the Woodman State Jail and maximum security Hughes Unit. They were joined by Chairman of the Board of Pardons and Parole David Gutierrez and other leadership from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

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

 

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