Beyond the Badge, Featured Stories

CDCR employee’s son graduates West Point

family photo with four people.
Adrian Albin, left, and Supervisor of Correctional Education Marla Clayton Johnson with the rest of their family.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

CDCR employees often open their wallets and hearts to those in need. For one family, they also opened their home and welcomed an additional son.

Before joining CDCR’s Office of Correctional Education as the Supervisor of Academic Instruction, Marla Clayton Johnson was a vice principal at a Sacramento area high school. That’s where she met student Adrian Albin, a young man struggling with his grades. As she got to know him, she came to learn he was homeless.

“Adrian isn’t our biological son, rather an at-risk former student of mine,” she explained. “He was a 16-year-old juvenile hall youth who needed some guidance and stability, who was missing tons of school, and getting suspended when he did decide to show up. But, his academic test scores were through the roof and his teachers and I could see his potential.” 

In 2013, Johnson asked her family if they wouldn’t mind taking in the young man. Her goal was to get him out of the homeless shelter so he could focus on his grades.

“He said he wanted to go to the Army when he graduated and we told him if he was going to live in our house, he was going to be educated and go to college first. As a high school vice principal and high school math teacher for a husband, he had no choice,” she joked. “Through his ‘find-a-way’ approach to life, he came back with, ‘OK, I found a place in New York where I can do both at the same time.’ He set his sights on attending West Point. Our youngest son, Tyler, had the brother he always wanted and they immediately bonded, allowing us to breathe a sigh of relief that this would all work out for the best.”

On June 13, 2020, Albin realized his goal and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

“My son Adrian went from being a statistic in the correctional system, rarely attending school with a 2.2 GPA in the middle of his sophomore year, to never missing a day and getting straight A grades until he graduated from high school, to graduating not only from West Point as a second lieutenant but as a National Champion Collegiate Boxer,” she said.