Literacy Highland Lakes Receives Governor's 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer Award
Front row, from left to right: Literacy Highland Lakes Executive Director Sally May, group board member Sue Wieland and volunteers JoAnn Donnelly and Genie Boyd.
Back row, from left to right: Texas Board of Criminal Justice Chairman Oliver Bell, Keynote Speaker Judge Cathy Cochran and Texas Department of Criminal Justice Executive Director Brad Livingston.
(AUSTIN, TX. - APRIL 17, 2014) – During ceremonies in Austin, Sally May of Granite Shoals accepted the Governor’s 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer “Judy Burd – Windham School District” Award on behalf of Literacy Highland Lakes. For 27 years, this 501(c)(3) volunteer-based non-profit group has conducted GED classes at the Ellen Halbert Unit in Burnet, Texas.
The award was presented by Oliver Bell, Chairman of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, and TDCJ Executive Director Brad Livingston.
“These men and women give their time not for monetary reward,” said Livingston. “They volunteer because they have a personal passion in seeing others succeed. We are grateful for their selfless dedication.”
Literacy Highland Lakes volunteers come to the Halbert Unit twice a week to teach and help offenders in one-on-one scenarios prepare for the GED test. With enthusiasm and patience they work with the offenders to accomplish their goal. Last year, 41 offenders received their GED. All of the tutors are college graduates and most have been teachers. In recognition of their dedication, the volunteers of Literacy Highland Lakes have been selected to receive the Windham School District’s “Judy Burd” Award.
The award is named in tribute to curriculum specialist Judy Burd who worked for the Windham School District where she developed the nationally recognized pre-release program called CHANGES. She was also the Volunteer Program Coordinator for the district who encouraged others to give of their time in service to others. Judy Burd also taught adult education classes at night in her community where she helped many people learn to read and write.
Literacy Highland Lakes is one of 6 organizations and 15 individuals from across the state recognized for their efforts to help inmates and those who are on parole or probation. Annually, some 21,000 volunteers make 145,000 visits to criminal justice facilities and work with offenders who are on supervision, donating some 460,000 hours of service.
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Message from Superintendent Dr. Clint Carpenter:
Career and Technical Education teachers help build future
Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers in the Windham School District (WSD) align job opportunities and learning with innovative instruction. The end result is a productive, positive journey for offenders seeking workforce reentry. Windham CTE teachers across Texas bring their own professional experiences to work to elevate their students’ skill levels.
More than 42 trades are offered by WSD throughout TDCJ, and these offerings have been recently expanded to include skills needed in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) middle-level jobs. WSDS vocational training programs include computer numeric control machining, fiber and copper cabling, computer controls programming and telecommunications.
Windham also partners with TDCJ to provide training and U. S. Dept. of Labor-approved apprenticeship programs for workers in various jobs within TDCJ facilities. Other CTE partnerships with industry and workforce development boards are also helping improve WSD vocational training while creating additional hiring opportunities for trained offenders after release.
At the foundation of these changes and improvements are Windham’s vocational instructors. They work each day in challenging environments to bring authentic, real-world training experiences to incarcerated men and women. They teach their students the technical and soft skills needed to rejoin the workforce, and they mentor their students to become the trained workers sought by employers. Last school year WSD’s CTE instructors provided opportunities for more than 19,000 students to earn valuable industry-recognized certifications, increasing their chances for viable careers after release.
During February, we proudly salute our CTE instructors during National Vocational Educator’s Week, and we thank them for their dedicated service as correctional educators.
For a look at a WSD Career and Technical Education WORKDAY, see our CTE Youtube video: https://youtu.be/Tq3HHTFKjcA
Windham School District’s (WSD) tours Kiewit Offshore Services, Ltd. (KOS) one of the leading fabricators in the oil and gas industry - Windham School District’s (WSD) Workforce and Industry Liaison, Rex Rhone, worked with Kiewit Offshore Services, Ltd. (KOS) in Ingleside, Texas to organize a tour of the facilities for WSD vocational instructors. KOS is one of the leading fabricators in the oil and gas industry.
The Huntsville Item
By Tom Waddill, Feb 25, 2018
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.
TDCJ Warden Wayne Brewer (right) and Major Kevin Smith congratulate
WSD teacher Terry Murray on being named an outstanding educator for Walker County.
"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."
In Dallas: Habitat for Humanity partners with WSD - Windham School District proudly partners with Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, increasing career opportunities for former offenders and providing additional job training for those who return to the Dallas area. While supporting employment in areas such as warehousing and home construction, Habitat for Humanity offers individuals the chance to give back to society and also rebuild their own lives.
WSD WANTS YOU To help recruit great teachers & earn extra time for yourself! - Correctional educators with Windham School District have some of the best teaching jobs in the state, and your help is needed to get this word out! WSD is currently recruiting academic and vocational teachers for its schools statewide, and employees are encouraged to help bring in the best referrals and candidates for Windham teaching jobs.