Former Windham student becomes successful electrician
TDCJ's offender newspaper, The ECHO, had the opportunity to interview ex-offender Garrett Stanley, who tells a wonderful story of success in life after incarceration. His story documents hard work, motivation and a desire to do well in life.
ECHO: Describe your life before prison.
GS: I did time in the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) from the ages of 14 to 16. I received my GED there at TYC. By the time I was 17 years old I was into drinking and drugs and in TDCJ on a 17-year sentence.
ECHO: Describe your prison educational experience.
GS: I did 12 years on a 17 year sentence from 1994-2006. I was on Luther, Torres and Hughes units during that time.
I attended and completed the electrical trades classes offered by the Windham School District (WSD). I was able to work for the unit maintenance department as an electrician for four years where I obtained invaluable experience on a day-to-day basis at work. I also volunteered and worked as a teacher's aide in the electrical trades classes for one and one-half years.
ECHO: Do you have any special comments about the WSD instructors you had for the courses?
GS: They were all great. They showed patience and kindness. They were very helpful. They taught us even when some of us were unteachable.
ECHO: Describe your life after release in 2006.
GS: At that time, I was assisted by Project RIO. I bought tools. I saw an advertisement in the newspaper, place by an electrical union. I answered the ad. They gave me a skills evaluation test and I scored very well due to the WSD classes and my experience at the Luther Unit. I have now been working for the same contractor for seven years.
ECHO: Describe your current position.
GS: I am a journey man electrician working at commercial and industrial sites, including power plants and water treatment plants.
ECHO: Explain how you think WSD made an impact on your life after TDCJ.
GS: I now have a good job and a good career due to the classes and skills learned through the WSD Electrical Trades program. I give all the credit to WSD such that I can make an honest living. I am a citizen of society, pay taxes and no one can take these things from me.
ECHO: What would be your advice to current offenders?
GS: Educate yourself for your future. Take advantage of every avenue of education available for you. Be hungry for knowledge. Dedicate your time toward an education and skills that can provide a career once released.
Reprinted from The ECHO.
Other Success Stories that may interest you:
NEW - I had given up on myself - "I could barely read or write and didn’t even realize I had given up on myself… a great teacher from WSD taught me how to believe in myself..."
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Monica Bennett-Oakley: In Cognitive Intervention class, persistent Windham teacher helps woman change life choices, change destiny - "You have changed my life forever, Mrs. Bohne," Oakley told her former Windham School District teacher, Pam Bohne. "What you told me in class changed my life. What you taught me was, 'If you change your choice, you can change the reaction to everything that is going on in life.' Thank you so much!"
Role Model - Success Story - "I talk to them about how important education is and how hard I'm trying to prove that to them."
Education 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."