TDCJ Public Information Office - Manvel Woman receives 2012 Governor's Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award
TDCJ Public Information Office, April 19, 2012
(AUSTIN) - Carolyne Fox of Manvel was presented the Governor's 2012 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award today in recognition of her dedication in helping offenders incarcerated within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. See link below.
MANVEL WOMAN RECEIVES GOVERNOR'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE VOLUNTEER SERVICE AWARD
(AUSTIN) – Carolyne Fox of Manvel was presented the Governor's 2012 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award today in recognition of her dedication in helping offenders incarcerated within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The award was presented by Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell and TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston today during a ceremony held in Austin. Fox is one of 13 individuals and 6 organizations from across the state recognized for their efforts to help offenders and those who are on parole or probation.
"Each of this year's award recipients personify a selfless dedication to helping offenders succeed both while incarcerated, and once they're released," said Livingston.
Fox was the recipient of the "Judy Burd" Award. This award is named in tribute to curriculum specialist, Judy Burd, who was employed with the Windham School District where she developed the nationally recognized pre-release program CHANGES. She was also the WSD Volunteer Program Coordinator and, in that capacity, encouraged many to give of their time in service to others.
To help offenders reach their educational potential, Carolyne Fox has been volunteering an average of two days a week at the Ramsey Unit since January 2011. During her numerous visits, she has volunteered over 200 hours of her time to impact the lives of offenders whose literacy skills are below the national average. Ms. Fox patiently works with each student, helping them and encouraging them in their learning experience. She demonstrates through her positive attitude and selflessness that education is an important aspect of rehabilitation. Ms. Fox is not just teaching them "reading, writing, and arithmetic," she is teaching them how to live life.
Fox received her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr College and graduate degree from Syracuse University. She and her husband, George, have two children and three grandchildren.
Fox is one of thousands of concerned volunteers, who like her, donate many hours of their personal time every year with the goal of changing the lives of convicted offenders, and aiding and comforting their victims. Annually, over 18,000 volunteers make 163,000 visits to criminal justice facilities and work with offenders who are on supervision, donating over 526,000 hours of service.
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Students stay alert in Terry Murray's classroom. They have to, otherwise they might get hit on the head by a flying football.
A literacy teacher in the Windham School District, Murray uses a football — her squishy Sam Houston State Bearkat model — to call on her students. She asks a question, then tosses the ball to a student.
"When they catch the ball, it's their turn to shine," Murray said with a smile.
And shine they do.
Students never get bored in Terry Murray's literacy classroom. For 3 1/2 hours each day, they work on assignments and learn things they didn't learn in school the first time they were there. Murray prepares her students to take the test for a GED degree.
"When I tell them they passed (the GED test), it's amazing. It's just amazing," Murray says. "Some of the guys literally kiss the ground. Some of them cry. It's very rewarding."
Offenders young and old — inmates who read and write on a wide range of levels — enjoy the educational experience in Murray's classroom inside the Estelle Unit, which is located about 20 miles north of Huntsville.
Most of the students in Murray's class accomplish their No. 1 goal. They earn their General Education Development, or GED, degree.
"The guys realize then that they're going to leave here with something they didn't have before. Some of them have never felt success before, and after they pass that test, they feel like they've accomplished something. And they have."
Proudly, Terry Murray says, "I love working for Windham. This is probably the most challenging and rewarding job I've ever had. Every day is a different day. I tell my students, 'Don't give up.' My motto is, I'm fair, I'm firm and I'm strict. I don't take no for an answer. Some of the students who are reluctant to learn, I tell them to give me three weeks. If they give me three weeks, their attitudes will change."
Murray has been teaching in the Windham School District since 1991. She started her career in Madisonville, then jumped to Willis where she taught reading and math to special education students.
After seven years in Willis, Murray started looking for a job closer to her Huntsville home. In the Windham District, which are the schools inside Texas prisons, she found what she was looking for and more.
"I love working for Windham," Murray said proudly. "This is probably the most challenging and rewarding job I've ever had. Every day is a different day. I tell my students, 'Don't give up.' My motto is, I'm fair, I'm firm and I'm strict. I don't take no for an answer.
"Some of the students who are reluctant to learn, I tell them to give me three weeks. If they give me three weeks, their attitudes will change," she added. "Just give me a chance. That's all I ask."
Murray's boss says it's amazing to watch this teacher work her magic.
More than 25 years into her career with the Windham School District, Terry Murray says she's still enthused and energized by her job teaching offenders in the Texas prison system. Many of Murray's students come to her class unfamiliar with success. Most leave her class with a General Education Development, or GED, degree and a newfound confidence they can take with them when they get out of prison.
"I send all of my newly hired teachers to observe in Ms. Murray's class because of her exceptional classroom management skills and because of how she masterfully guides her students to achieve excellence in education," said Frieda Hamer Spiller, a principal in the Windham School District who works in the Ferguson, Goree, Holliday, Huntsville and Wynne units.
"Teaching at the Estelle Unit for the past 20 years or so, Terry has impacted the lives of multitudes of offender students in her literacy class," Spiller added. "She has guided well over 400 of these students who have achieved their GEDs. Not only is Ms. Murray dedicated to teaching the offender population and helping her students achieve society's minimal educational standard, but she also sets high academic standards that her students strive to attain."
Using some of the same tools she employed as a youthful teacher in Willis, Murray makes her students at Estelle feel special. Some of them don't stop with their GEDs; many of Murray's students keep pushing and start pursuing a college education.
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"First, you've got to make the students feel worthy," Murray explained. "They've got to feel like, 'I can do this,' then you can begin a lot of cooperative learning. In my classroom, they learn to work together. When they get out in the real world, they've got to be able to do that.
"They come into class timid and withdrawn and leave out with knowledge and power that cannot be taken away."
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