Isaac White: ‘Life was waiting for me!’
Business owner credits vocational classes as foundation for success after release from prison
“I was 18 years old, convicted of aggravated robbery with a weapon, and knowing I would possibly be in prison until I was 26. I knew I had to make plans for the rest of my life. I knew after I was released, I had to get out and make a living. Life was waiting for me,” remembers Isaac White, a former offender who served time in three facilities in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Today White is a free citizen and president and owner of his own successful electrical contracting company based in Waller, Texas. The company has been in business since September 2013, serving Waller, Washington, Grimes, Austin and Harris counties. White employs three men and says last year’s sales revenue was about $300,000.
“We provide residential homeowners, general contractors and commercial business owners with emergency service, repair work, and new construction and remodeling work. We do honest, good work with integrity, and we get a lot of referrals from clients,” he says. “We do all things electrical.”
White credits the electrical and plumbing training he learned in prison from Windham School District as the foundation of his success.
“Other offenders told me about educational opportunities available through Windham. I knew I needed a trade that would provide me with a solid job to get on with life. I enrolled in a six-month WSD plumbing class at the Clemens Unit and graduated. Then I received a two-year set off and couldn’t go home. I decided to enroll in another vocational class to add to my skills; I was planning for my release, whenever it would be. I graduated from the electrical program at the Luther Unit in 1998. I had found my Windham teachers were real people, and they taught their subject areas really well. They gave me hope for a future career with actual skills, and after 16 years in the trade, I have done well. ”
Following his release in 1999, White hired on for a year with a swimming pool contractor and soon made his move into the electrical field. He also went to the Independent Electrical Contractors Association to attend a four-year apprenticeship program.
“When I graduated, I took a test to acquire a Journeyman Electrical License and later pursued a Master Electrical License,” he says. “I went to school for four years to learn all I could. Knowledge is power and money!”
Along with financial rewards, White enjoys doing his job well and balancing it with family life, which includes a wife and teenage son.
“I love to see the excitement and relief on my customers’ faces when their job is fixed properly and in a timely manner,” he says, “but the most challenging part of what I do these days is balancing everything in my life. I make sure I keep appointments with clients, I make sure I have time with family, and I make sure I keep my reputation at its best for the future of my company.”
White encourages current offenders to use their time to prepare for success after release: “Life is waiting for you!” he says. “Get ready for that day when you walk out those doors. Learn a trade and get your GED and education. And when you get settled and are doing well for yourself, tell someone and share your story. If you can go back and tell those who are still waiting for their chance, let them know that life is waiting.”
Other articles that may interest you:
Why I Teach for Windham: Brent Frailicks - A new recruitment video entitled "Why I Teach for Windham: Brent Frailicks" is now available on YouTube. Cognitive Intervention teacher Frailicks at the Moore Unit explains why he chooses to be a correctional educator, and his response is an affirmation of the valuable work done by all WSD teachers.
Letter from WSD: WSD explains program expansion - In our continuing series on the changes and improvements in the Windham School District (WSD) Vocational Trades and Career and Technical Education certifications, we would like to share WSD’s plan for program expansion. New course lengths, course offerings and training opportunities are becoming available for men and women in TDCJ.
WSD expands vocational programming, course lengths, training opportunities - WSD is proud to share its plan for program expansion through an ongoing series of changes and improvement in the Vocational Trades and Career and Technical Education certifications. New course lengths, course offerings and training opportunities are becoming available to men and women in TDCJ. In the past, courses in vocational trades matched the course requirements for Windham, rather than just the hours needed for certification. While completing the total hours in a course will provide additional skill practice, many students finished the skills much faster than the course was completed.
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
¡Gracias, Junta de Fideicomisarios (Board of Trustees) de WSD! - El mes de reconocimiento de la Junta Escolar se destaca en enero, pero el Distrito Escolar de Windham agradece a la Junta de Justicia Criminal de Texas por su servicio durante todo el año como su Junta de Fideicomisarios.