Windham School District acknowledges the fact that each volunteer brings their own unique talents, skills, knowledge, and abilities gained through training and/or individual life experiences. Volunteers bring this wealth of knowledge and become valued participants on advisory boards and committees pertaining to educational, vocational and life skills training programs. “People helping people” is the guiding principal of volunteering in correctional education partnerships. Volunteers provide assistance with specific activities and programs for incarcerated individuals that promote personal growth and educational opportunities. The goal is to facilitate the offender’s successful reentry back into their communities, to aid in the transition between confinement and society as well as reduce recidivism.
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Programs Offered by Volunteers:
The Pen-City Writers Program is a college-level creative-writing certificate program for men incarcerated at the Connally Unit. It is sponsored by the English Department at University of Texas at Austin as a university extension program. The incarcerated students who complete the program will earn a certificate, earn UT college credits, publish their own journal, have their own library, and are learning to be writers and thinkers behind bars.
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Reading is Freedom Program is a volunteer reading program that was piloted at the Clements Unit in Amarillo. Windham School District (WSD) Special Programs Division and TDCJ’s Rehabilitative Programs Division (RPD) Chaplaincy department joined forces to coordinate services and develop a program which targets incarcerated individuals who are at a Literacy I level. Field Ministers who are graduates from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary College at the Darrington Unit are paired up with volunteers who will receive training in the selected Language! curriculum. Language! is a comprehensive reading intervention program for students in grades 3-12 who are 1-2 grades below grade level. The volunteers will participate in a two-day Language! training session provided by Windham academic specialist preparing them to be the reading instructors for the program. The education and chaplain departments on the unit will coordinate the days the program will be offered.
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Women’s Storybook Project (WSP) of Texas builds relationships between mothers behind bars and their children on the outside. Windham School District (WSD) partners with the storybook program at several Texas prison sites, coordinating efforts with the WSD parenting program. This special program help incarcerated mothers do what moms have always done to comfort and nurture their children such as read them bedtime stories, using their own voices to love, reassure, and encourage them from miles away. Volunteers visit women’s prisons in Central and East Texas once a month to record mothers reading books aloud to their children. The children receive a copy of the recording and a new book each month. In 2018, nine prisons and over 2,500 women are participating.
To learn more:
- Windham School District Women's Storybook Project
- Women’s Storybook Project (WSP) of Texas
- The STORY of STORYBOOK
Volunteering stories that may interest you:
Women's Storybook Project - Simple idea with big impact allows mothers to connect with children.
Literacy Highland Lakes Receives Criminal Justice Volunteer Award - Literacy Highland Lakes received an award for volunteering its literacy services to female inmates at the Ellen Halbert Unit in Burnet during the Governor’s 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer ceremony in Austin on April 17.
Sour Lake Man Receives Governor's 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award - Lloyd Michael Warren of Sour Lake, Texas was presented the Windham School District Employee Volunteer award during the Governor’s 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award program.
TDCJ Public Information Office - Manvel Woman receives 2012 Governor's Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award - Carolyne Fox of Manvel was presented the Governor's 2012 Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award in recognition of her dedication in helping offenders incarcerated within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Literacy Highland Lakes Receives Governor's 2014 Criminal Justice Volunteer Award - 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.