Educational programming on rise at SVSP

Three graduates in caps and gowns.
Graduates at Salinas Valley State Prison.

Prison expands student resources, increases course enrollment

Educational programming is thriving at Salinas Valley State Prison (SVSP) despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

SVSP is expanding educational opportunities for all learners through traditional partnerships with local colleges, by introducing new programs to developmentally disabled students, and by procuring more resources to better aid those on their educational journey.

SVSP adds 93 re-purposed computers for educational programming

When Devin Holmes learned of the vital need for more computers in the education department, the chief of customer service and field operations for CDCR’s Enterprise Information Services (EIS) got to work. He loaded his van with 93 re-purposed desktop computers and personally delivered them to the institution earlier this month. The computers are being placed in classrooms that previously had less than two or three, or even none at all. 

“I have been involved in numerous projects over the last 10 years in support of the Division or Rehabilitative Programs (DRP) mission. As more educational efforts are being fulfilled by technology, we need to ensure we have the equipment in institutions to support them,” said Holmes.  “This project allowed CDCR to find a home for desktops that still have a few more years left in them.  It is important to me to continue to assist DRP in their many efforts to ensure that we can support learning opportunities as much as possible.”

The impact these computers will have on student learning will extend to many students’ educational journeys by providing greater access to current technology.

“These computers will help us as we work diligently to move our school forward with the tools and resources that properly prepare our incarcerated populous for a successful re-entry into their community,” said SVSP Principal Leslie Farley. “Our administrative staff, teachers and students are extremely grateful.”

Prison recognizes first CAP recipients

Developmentally disabled students at SVSP are able to earn a Certificate of Attendance and Participation (CAP) for their achievements while enrolled in the Developmentally Disabled Program (DDP).

In May, the education staff awarded the first three students of the program with a CAP. The certificate recognizes their commitment to furthering their education.

The Office of Correctional Education and Department of Student Support Services created CAP two years ago. The program offers more educational programming opportunities to developmentally disabled students.

Between the three graduating students, there are more than 15 years combined participation in Adult Basic Education (ABE). They also more than nine years combined in the DDP program at SVSP. Two of the students gave speeches that encouraged others to further their education. When students were asked whether they wanted to seek opportunities outside their regular ABE class, all three opted to stay.

Correspondence college enrollment doubles during pandemic

Correspondence college, which allows for self-paced and independent studies, was necessary during the pandemic when face-to-face instruction was not possible. 

During the 2020/2021 fiscal school year, more students than ever sought educational programming opportunities using correspondence college, with enrollment doubling. The educational staff at the institution worked alongside stakeholders. They went the extra mile to take on more clerical work, ensure every student was provided their coursework. In all, 530 homework packets were facilitated between instructors and students.

Bookmark contest inspires literacy

SVSP held their first bookmark contest in May of 2021 to promote literacy and artistic expression. The education department’s Computer Related Technology teacher, Cynthia Dunning, planned an activity to help encourage the entire incarcerated population. Her goal was also meant to ignite enthusiasm after being on modified programming for over a year. The population was asked to contribute a visually pleasing bookmark that inspired literacy to the contest.

The panel of judges consisted of an associate warden, education officer, and two teachers from the education staff.  All bookmark contest participants received a participation certificate. 

The first place winner was Janette Richardson. Richardson serves in the education department as a library clerk at SVSP.

Read more rehabilitation stories.

Follow CDCR on YouTubeFacebook and Twitter.