Awards and Appreciation, Rehabilitation

Recognizing Teacher Appreciation Week

Students sit at desks while a teacher lectures in a classroom at Avenal State Prison.
Teachers make a difference across California.

In honor of May 7-13 being Teacher Appreciation Week, I would like to take this opportunity to send a thank you and recognition to those in our correctional classrooms who positively impact thousands of lives every single day.

Correctional Education Superintendent Shannon Swain smiling.
Shannon Swain, OCE Superintendent

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”  – William A. Ward

Teaching in prison takes a special kind of person, one who can meet students where they are, helping them see a new way of thinking and understanding. In classrooms across the state, I have seen teachers differentiate instruction, use cooperative learning strategies and evidence-based instructional practices to provide rich, relevant experiences for their students.

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin

Outstanding andragogy actively engages students in their own learning, and helps them “own” their own outcomes.  I love seeing the ways our instructors inspire students, providing them with chances to apply their new found learning and share it with others.

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” – Robert Frost

One theme I have heard repeated in many student graduation speeches is the profound impact on their self-esteem they have found in correctional classrooms. I often hear how the skills our students learn pave the way for successful reentry, helping them prepare for careers or continuing their education. The work our teachers do helps create a hunger for lifelong learning.  Education is transformative.

“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” – John Dewey

Teachers in California’s prison classrooms are providing essential access to technology, incorporating news and current events in their classroom conversations, and modeling how to successfully navigate in the modern world.

“Education is improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”  Marian Wright Edelman

Education provides opportunities for the incarcerated students we serve to pursue their personal and professional goals. I have witnessed graduates cry happy tears because of the ways their educational achievement will positively impact their families. I well remember a young man in cap and gown smiling happily at his toddler son in the audience. When the little boy started to cry, this student instinctively picked up his son, and walked across the dais to receive his CTE certificate with his son in his arms. After the ceremony, he told me how much he appreciated the chance to show his family a new way of being.

Teachers in CDCR classrooms are the true ambassadors of change, taking the Rehabilitative Revolution underway in California prisons directly where it needs to be delivered—to the hearts and minds of our students. Join me in celebrating our teachers this week and always.

Superintendent Shannon Swain
CDCR, Office of Correctional Education

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