Yawn represents WSD at international conference

Richard Yawn
Richard Yawn
Windham School District was represented at the recent Correctional Education Association (CEA) International Conference in Portland, Ore., by Richard Yawn, division director for Operational Support. Approximately 500 correctional educators from the United States and countries such as Ireland, England, China and Australia attended the conference, which was entitled "The Pioneering Spirit from the Past to the Future."

More than 100 sessions were offered during the four-day conference dealing with all aspects of correctional education. Yawn represented WSD Superintendent Mike Morrow at the State Director's meeting, discussing programs and services provided by WSD. He also attended sessions presented by Director of Correctional Education John Linton, U.S. Department of Education, and Gary Rutkin, director of Neglected and Delinquent Programs, U.S. Department of Education.

Next year's conference will be in Oklahoma City, July 6-9, 2003, and is planned around the theme "Synergizing for Successful Re-Entry." "It is a good opportunity to share with the world the good things Windham is doing in the field of correctional education," he said.


Windham answers questions for offenders' families at PACT

WSD educated the public about its programs in the first "Public Awareness Corrections Today" (PACT) conference in August, working with families of offenders and offender advocacy groups. Approximately 300 participants met in the Sam Houston State University Criminal Justice Center in Huntsville to talk with TDCJ officials about issues facing offenders. Presentations by TDCJ specialists, panel discussions, and exhibits encouraged families to interact with prison officials.

PACT participants
Information specialist: Elmer Fulp of Project RIO and Gloria Oates of WSD's post secondary program answer questions from PACT participants.

The conference agenda included educational and vocational programs, health services, grievance and disciplinary processes, the parole process, victim services, and other areas of interest.

WSD Division of Instruction Director Marjie Haynes and Division of Continuing Education Director Bob Evans presented information about Windham programs and their effectiveness, while Superintendent Mike Morrow answered questions in a panel discussion. Also on hand to answer individual questions at the WSD exhibit table were Deputy Superintendent John Spencer, Project RIO Administrator Elmer Fulp, Project RIO Program Coordinator Paula Davis, WSD Post Secondary Administrator Gloria Oates, Youthful Offender Grant Coordinator Mark Bacon, and Public Information Officer Bambi Kiser.

Windham to be featured in new Texas
prison museum

Dr. Lane Murray
Dr. Lane Murray, Windham's first superintendent, made state history by becoming the first female superintendent of a Texas school district. She served in this position for 24 years until 1993, overseeing WSD's growth in every region of the state. (This photo is planned for display in the Windham section of the new Texas Prison Museum)

The Windham Archive Committee has worked with the Texas Prison Museum to create a unique correctional education display for the new museum facility. A brief explanation of WSD's creation, history, programs and goals will be featured in the museum, which will host a grand opening ceremony on Nov. 13. WSD has contributed historical and current photos and information, which will become part of the permanent display.

Special events are planned for the museum's grand opening from Nov. 13-16, and admission will be free on those days, according to Museum Director Weldon Svoboda. The 10,000-square foot complex will feature 6,000 square feet of prison history displays and a 4,000-square-foot conference center.

Windham's Archives Committee was chaired by retired WSD Director of Administrative Services Pat Norwood and included Superintendent Mike Morrow, Deputy Superintendent John Spencer, Administrator of Intake and Records Arlene Faulkner, Superintendent's Administrative Assistant Kelly Hoot and Public Information Officer Bambi Kiser.

Women's apprenticeship program is
recognized for Braille translation

Texas media spotlighted the Mountain View Unit while reporting on offenders who have just become certified to translate textbooks into Braille for school children with visual impairments. The Dallas Morning News (Aug. 26), the Waco Tribune-Herald (Aug. 9), the Gatesville Messenger (July 24), WFAA-TV (Dallas), KWTX-TV (Waco), and The Picket (Gatesville) publicized the Braille translation effort, which involves a WSD apprenticeship program, training offenders to use computer peripheral equipment. Offenders learn to transcribe Braille as a part of the class, which involves 144 class hours per year and 2,000 work hours with TDCJ's Manufacturing and Logistics Division. The women have worked at least two years to receive certification through the program, and can read, translate and type in Braille.
Offenders at the Mountain View Unit

Making life better for others: Offenders at the Mountain View Unit translate textbooks into Braille to help Texas school children.

Mountain View Principal Linda Gise told the Waco Tribune-Herald that while school children benefit from the new group of translators, the offenders "also leave prison with an opportunity to earn a legitimate wage."

"The day after they get out, the offenders can get used computers that people have donated," Gise said. "They can start working right away at their homes. This is an example of how prison industry has changed its focus to training offenders, making them more employable." Gise helps screen offenders who want to enter the program based on educational level and abilities and a good disciplinary record.

Offenders seeking certification "are enrolled in a correspondence course from the Library of Congress and must pass 19 lessons," according to the Gatesville Messenger. They "must be able to accurately transcribe a 25-page manuscript that can be taken from any book." The offenders can then continue their education to become certified in mathematics and music transcribing, and proofreading.

The group's first textbook project, a translation of a fourth-grade advanced placement geography text, was supplied by Robert Walling, Braille coordinator for the Region XX Education Service Center in San Antonio. Walling told the Tribune-Herald "inmates have been used for years to translate Braille elsewhere in the United States, and the program has shown a marked success in keeping many of those inmates from returning to prison." He also commented that translators can work at home and make a living wage.

Plant Manager Delores Billman, who teaches in the Braille apprenticeship program, said she is now looking for free world translation contracts and volunteer work for the offenders, according to the Gatesville Messenger.


WSD subscribes to SAFETY-NET for
educators at two TDCJ facilities

The Justice Distance Learning Consortium (JDLC) recently announced that two TDCJ facilities will be using SAFETY-NET in the coming year. WSD will be piloting SAFETY-NET at the Clemens and Hilltop units.

SAFETY-NET, a network developed by the Florida Department of Corrections, Texas Youth Commission, and New York State Office of Children and Family Services (all members of the Justice Distance Learning Consortium), provides educational resources in multiple formats. Subscribers receive video-based educational programs 24 hours a day, seven days a week via DBS (direct broadcast satellite). In addition, each teacher is given his or her own email address and can access a wealth of information on the SAFETY-NET website, located at www.safety-net.org. Lesson plans, classroom activities and printed materials supporting the video programs are available, along with the opportunity to visit with colleagues in similar facilities across the country.

"We are very impressed with the variety of educational resources that SAFETY-NET offers our teachers," said Marjie Haynes, WSD Division of Instruction director. "Of particular interest is the extensive amount of professional development that SAFETY-NET makes available."


Statewide librarian meeting focuses on
improving services

Librarians and library aides from WSD
Librarians and library aides from WSD campuses throughout the state meet in Huntsville for a two-day conference concerning the commonchallenges of librarians working within TDCJ. Topics discussed included district-wide systematic processing of books, best practices for managing the libraries, problems in dealing with subscription orders, administrative funding, future plans for computers, and library supply funding.

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