Inmates embrace education through new Mid-State Technical College program
Providing a second chance to the local incarcerated population, Mid-State Technical College has collaborated with the county jails in its district to bring career awareness and high school equivalency instruction to inmates. Mid-State joined the Wood County Sheriff’s Department in celebrating its hard-working participants on May 26, presenting eight inmates with a certificate of achievement for successfully completing the new Career Awareness course from Mid-State.
“We are all very proud of their accomplishment and are excited to continue the partnership with Mid-State Technical College,” said Wood County Jail Lieutenant Melissa Saeger.
Mid-State began offering its career awareness and GED programming at Adams County and Portage County jails in August 2019, with the Wood County Jail following suit in January of this year. Thirty-nine inmates participated in the program this spring at Wood County. Those who did not complete the course will be able to continue in the fall, or, if they were released from custody, to finish at any Mid-State campus.
The Career Awareness course includes eight modules and seven competencies, including “Adopt and practice strategies for life-long learning, critical and creative thinking, and empowerment mindset” and culminating in “Construct academic plan and pathways for continued skills building.” The Wood County Jail completers were among 12 inmates in total at area county jails who completed the course this year.
“Campus and jail closures due to COVID-19 meant this was a true collaboration between the inmates, correctional officers and Mid-State faculty,” said Amber Stancher, Mid-State’s dean of Basic Education & Learning Resources.
Those adjustments included continuing instruction via web conferencing and correspondence when the jails were initially closed to visitors and then looking to jail staff to ensure students got their assignments and returned completed work to Mid-State. “At one point we were getting 20–30 emails per day from jail staff reporting on the success students were having and asking for more work,” Stancher added.
The hard work of all involved is already paying off. The Career Awareness course provides one college credit for any completers who decide to continue their education at Mid-State, and some have already indicated their plans to do just that. “It motivates me to do better in life and gives me the confidence to take a college class to help me get a lifelong career,” said Corday Alarie, who completed the course at Wood County Jail.
According to Stancher, bringing adult basic education and college preparation into the jails is part of Mid-State’s larger, ongoing effort to expand opportunities for all individuals in the communities it serves. “I am excited for the future of our jail programming, but I am even more excited to see the future success of our career awareness completers,” she said.
“We have great local opportunities to collaborate with stakeholders willing to make a difference in people’s lives,” said Wood County Sheriff Shawn Becker. “The eight inmates that participated in the program with [Mid-State] now have a foundation to build upon if they want to continue their education—it’s just blocks away.”