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:

TDCJ Windham School District: An Ongoing Success Story - When you talk about schools in our area you usually talk about Paducah ISD, Guthrie CSD, and then of course there is Matador, Crowell, Childress ISD, just numerous schools we are all acquainted with and that each year, through sports, we come in contact with. Well, there is another school in our area, one that gets little attention, but one that is very important, one that serves a very distinct class of students.

Quick Facts School Year 2016 - WSD’s Vision, Mission, Goals and Partnerships, along with a brief summary of SY 2016 highlights.

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.

Bastrop Man Receives Governor's 2016 Criminal Justice Volunteer Award(AUSTIN) – Garrett Stanley of Bastrop, Texas was presented the "Judy Burd – Windham School District" Award during the Governor's 2016 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award program today (April 15, 2016). The award was presented by Dale Wainwright, Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, and TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston during a ceremony held in Austin.

Message from Board Chairman Dale Wainwright - Under the capable leadership of Windham Superintendent Dr. Clint Carpenter, WSD employees have made ambitious and successful efforts to improve operations and student performance.

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 IconNEW - Better future after prison - "It's mind-blowing and inspirational to know that you can have a better future after prison"

Success Story IconEducation changed my life -
"These opportunities [GED® classes or learning a trade] are great, but WSD is so much more than that; for me it was a change of life."

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.'"

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WSD in Images

Vocational and academic skills are integrated in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, such as this Small Engine Repair class in Huntsville, Texas.
Female offenders in Gatesville, Texas, study to improve their literacy skills during a WSD academic class.
Each day WSD correctional educators pass through prison gates across Texas to work with men and women incarcerated within TDCJ.
Offenders often experience academic success for the first time in a Windham classroom.
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.
Texas State Board of Education Chair Barbara Cargill congratulates GED recipients during Spring, 2014, ceremonies. “I am very impressed with the program and with the commitment of the staff and teachers,” she said.