CDCR, CCHCS honor employees
The first week of May is dedicated to recognizing several professions for their hard work and dedication to service. This week, CDCR and CCHCS leadership took the time to honor these outstanding employees:
Public Service Recognition Week: Secretary Kathleen Allison and Receiver Clark Kelso express gratitude
National Correctional Officers and Employees Week: A message from Division of Adult Institutions Director Connie Gipson
Teacher Appreciation Week: Office of Correctional Education Superintendent Shannon Swain applauds educators
3 Questions With..
Anthony Cross, Field Training Sergeant, Correctional Officer Job Shadow Program
Sgt. Anthony Cross began his career with CDCR in 2014, at California State Prison, Sacramento (SAC), where he remains today. He graduated from San Jose State University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in business. As an officer, he gained some of his best experience as a floor officer working in Psychiatric Services Unit (PSU) among all watches, and as a Search & Escort (S&E) officer in General Population (GP). He promoted to Sergeant in August 2018, and has been the Field Training Sergeant at SAC since October 2021. He enjoys participating and watching boxing and is currently 6-0 as an amateur boxer with the United Combat Association (UCA) and holds the title of Cruiserweight Champion. He is also a boxing and condition coach at the UFC Gym in Folsom. He is a huge undercover fan of the CBS show “Survivor.” Sgt. Cross never imagined pursuing a career in law enforcement until he applied his junior year of college and is beyond grateful for his career with CDCR.
As a Field Training Sergeant, what does that job entail?
As the Field Training Sergeant, my job is assisting and providing relevant institution-based training to our new officers as they make the transition from the academy and acclimate to SAC. Specifically, my partner Sgt. H. Mitchell and I create a three-week schedule for our new officers to shadow experienced staff on the line. Our amazing custody staff here at SAC is really where all the credit is due. We do our best to assess the new officers, and assign them to experienced officers, areas and posts at our institution that would be most beneficial toward their individual job shadowing experience.
What has been the best part of your experience with the Job Shadow program?
The best part of the experience has been watching the growth of all staff here at SAC. I have observed custody staff of all ranks embrace the new officers, and mature into roles as mentors as they continue to provide guidance. Many staff go above and beyond in ways that I am grateful for. The amount of knowledge and experience that SAC staff have to offer is extensive and unmeasurable. Our new officers going through the program will shadow some of the best correctional staff this country has – that sounds like an exaggeration, but I know that statement is true.
How has your work with the Job Shadow program been impactful to new staff?
I recall when Lt. Klein originally piloted the program at SAC, and how appreciative the officers were going through the program. My hope is that the new officers going through the Job Shadowing Program will continue to observe firsthand the tremendous pride and work ethic my fellow partners and myself have toward our profession and safety. I continue to always be an asset and resource for anyone at SAC whether they ask for it or not in hopes that they will pay it forward and help others in the future as well. My goal is for a higher retention rate at SAC. SAC has had a 97% retention rate of officers since I have been the Field Training Sergeant at SAC, and I would love to keep that number consistent.
3 Questions With…
Michael Weaver, Principal, CRC
Michael Weaver began his education career by spending his first 10 years working for a small church-sponsored school in Fresno, as a teacher, coach, principal and bus driver! He was also an elementary teacher for Fresno Unified School District for three years. He took a break from teaching and tried his hand in the printing business for several years, working long hours but not making much money.
Weaver began his CDCR career in October 1995 at Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP), where he taught English as a Second Language (ESL) for four years. In 1999, he promoted to Vice Principal at Correctional Training Facility (CTF) in Soledad. On April 1, 2003, he was promoted to Principal at the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC), where he remains today.
Weaver earned his bachelor’s degree from what is now Vanguard University. He earned a Multi-Subjects teaching credential from Fresno Pacific University, where he also completed his first tier administration credential. He completed the second-tier of his Administration Credential at San Jose State University – where he also earned a Master’s Degree in Education.
As Supervisor of Correctional Education Programs (Principal), what does your day-to-day life entail?
My day usually begins at the breakfast table where I check my emails on my state-issued cell phone. On my way to work I stop at a nearby store and pick up some fresh fruit for the faculty lounge. Once in my office, I review the scheduled events for the day, check the absentee list and ensure all programs are running. There are usually several events going on throughout the day, some simultaneously, so the assistant principals play a big role in covering all the required meetings and trainings.
I spend a few hours each week conducting central file reviews of the incarcerated people listed on the weekly intake report. Attendance at Initial Classification Units is also helpful and informative. I visit the dorms once or twice a week to conduct education orientations. At the orientations, I distribute and collect high school transcript requests and answer any questions they may have concerning education programs. The assistant principals assist me in these orientations.
As our college programs have grown, more and more of my time is devoted to our various college community partners. I attend a weekly virtual meeting with Pitzer and Norco College administrators and other stakeholders to discuss the day-to-day operations of the program.
Of course, there are classroom visits which I admit, I do not do enough. The education staff at CRC do amazing work each week in a difficult environment and I enjoy tremendously, seeing them in action.
A fun duty is emailing celebration announcements to the teachers each week for their students’ successes, i.e., program completions, diplomas and/or certifications. I also set aside some time each week to reflect, hold conversations with staff and plan creative things to make the school better.
What resources are available to your students and their families to help them succeed?
We offer academic classes for non-readers through college, vocational programs and transitions classes. We have teachers/instructors who are dedicated and passionate about education and we all do our best to maintain a student-centered vision.
We also collaborate with the ISUDT Rehabilitative Program Manager and the Community Resources Manager to coordinate and expand the number of learning opportunities the institution offers. We believe in an integrated approach to education. We also offer recreational activities and library services.
CRC is also a designated Youthful Offender Program institution. We receive funding for the Every Student Succeed Act (ESSA) that targets incarcerated people under 22 years of age. This federal grant provides CRC with a full-time ESSA academic teacher.
One of our newest programs is the Peer Literacy Mentor Program (PLMP). The PLMP program funds one academic teacher and 20 incarcerated mentors to supplement our traditional academic programs. Our Education program schedule is very flexible with classes in the morning, afternoon and evening.
What are your goals and how has your experiences so far impacted this journey?
When I visit the dorms I share our “why” of education. Participation in education programs reduces the likelihood of you returning to prison: It improves public safety (including your own), and it improves the quality of your life; both while you are in prison and when you re-enter society upon parole. I also tell them that people with higher education live longer, they make more money and they live healthier lives.
I have enjoyed my journey in correctional education and will always be thankful for the opportunities given me as a teacher and administrator. It has been a great adventure and hopefully, has made a positive impact on the thousands of incarcerated individuals that I have seen go through our educational programs over the past 26 years.
Do you know a staff member who should be highlighted in our weekly update? Submit their name, title, contact information and a brief description of their work to Cal_ExternalAffairs@cdcr.ca.gov.
CDCR joins other agencies for May 7 job fair
Multiple California state agencies will host a one-stop statewide job recruitment fair for those interested in a career in law enforcement. The May 7 event will feature guest speakers and panel discussions, equipment demonstrations, and family-friendly activities. Come learn more about all of the unique job opportunities that exist in law enforcement across California.
The job fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at DMV Headquarters Parking Lot, 2415 1st Ave., Sacramento. For more information visit the Law Enforcement Career Fair webpage.
Youth at O.H. Close create Mother’s Day cards
Youth at O.H Close Youth Correctional Facility (OHC) in Stockton crafted beautiful, hand-drawn cards to recognize the love and gratitude they have for the mother-figure in their lives. The card-making sessions included positive discussions on the women most important to them.
The activity was led by recreational therapist Angela Tarbat, and each of OHC’s living units enjoyed widespread participation. Benefits from the activity included stress relief, positive shared social time, focus and creativity.
Nonprofit helps train next generation of firefighters
Anthony Pedro was released to parole supervision in August 2018 and quickly got a job with Home Depot and began volunteering as a firefighter. By June 2020, Pedro was working with CAL FIRE (Pioneer Station in Somerset), got married, and purchased a house in Pollock Pines. During Pedro’s parole supervision, he had no violations of parole and was discharged early, following his 25th month of successful parole. Since discharge, he started a nonprofit firefighter training camp in El Dorado County called Future Fire Academy, modeled after another training camp in Southern California. Last month featured the first graduating class at the training program, which included several people on parole supervision.
Parole Agent I Tyler Padovan assisted Pedro with the founding of this program and acted as a conduit between other agencies such as Northern California Construction Training (NCCT) program and the El Dorado County Office of Education.
Insight Garden Program celebrates 20 years
The Insight Garden Program (IGP) transforms incarcerated members’ lives through connection to nature. IGP facilitates an innovative curriculum combined with vocational gardening and landscaping training so that people who are incarcerated can reconnect to self, community, and the natural world. Their gardening approach, which includes teaching basic gardening skills, food and urban agriculture, green technology, emotional process work, and human and ecological connection, has been proven to transform lives, end ongoing cycles of incarceration, and create safer communities, all while providing healing to lives, families and communities.
In Our Institutions
NKSP donates big to Make-A-Wish
North Kern State Prison (NKSP) donated $8,327.86 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A young boy’s wish to go to Disneyland will be granted thanks to this generous donation. Warden Kelly Santoro was on hand to present the donation.
Make-A-Wish is a nonprofit organization that grants wishes to children with life-threatening diseases. It was founded in 1980 when the first wish was granted to a boy who wished to be a police officer. Since then, the foundation has granted more than 198,012 wishes.
“These children are all facing life-threatening illnesses and to inspire hope within these children by granting a wish is a mission that NKSP can help fulfill,” Santoro said. “With these donations we hope to encourage the children along with their families to continue their journey with strength, bravery and love.”
Funds were raised through NKSP population food sale fundraisers.
In The Media
Turning formerly incarcerated people into viable members of society is mission of Stockton nonprofit
Earlier this week, the White House announced a first-of-its-kind collaboration between the Department of Justice and the Department of Labor.
The plan calls for job skills training and “individualized employment and reentry plans.” The goal is to provide a “seamless transition to employment and reentry support upon release.”
The administration made the announcement during “Second Chance Month.”
“You do the best you can to survive and then one day make it out into the community and be a citizen,” Jason Gottlieb, who served state prison time in Folsom, San Quentin and Solano, said.
In 1980, the 66-year-old Gottlieb got 25 years to life in prison for a deadly shooting he says he didn’t commit, but he was convicted as an accomplice to the crime. Gottlieb was later exonerated by former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. That was after he had already served 25 years, getting out in 2005.
San Diego State University has been invited to participate in a nationwide initiative to reduce recidivism and help incarcerated individuals access federal need-based financial aid to pursue educational programs. The Second Chance Pell Experiment provides Pell Grants for incarcerated individuals enrolled in participating programs.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, the program will expand the number of participating schools to 200. Since its launch in 2015 by the Obama Administration, the initiative has helped more than 7,000 students earn credentials and training.
SDSU is among 73 colleges and universities in the expansion announcement. It was timed to coincide with “Second Chance Month” for formerly incarcerated individuals reentering society, a number that increases by more than 640,000 a year.
The SDSU team, led by Professor Annie Buckley, director of the School of Art and Design, has developed an interdisciplinary degree plan including Art and Design, Journalism and Media Studies, and Communication to support critical thinking, creativity and job development. Plans call for enrolling students at two prisons in Imperial Valley.
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