With the global pandemic creating strict social distancing protocols, educators everywhere are innovating to make sure students aren't left behind. Much like schools have had to adapt to this new normal, correctional educators are working hard to make sure their students stay on track.
Throughout the pandemic, staff at CoreCivic's Lee Adjustment Center in Beattyville, Kentucky, have assembled regular learning packets for inmate-students that include GED curriculum material, as well as material that engages the mind while outside of the classroom. Also included in the packets are reading exercises based on each student's individual learning plan. This type of material allows students to work independently, without an instructor present, so that social distance guidelines can be adequately met.
"Nothing will quite replace the classroom instruction environment, but we are doing our best to support our students' educational progress under the unprecedented circumstances created by the pandemic," said Lee Adjustment Center's Instructor Supervisor Benny Patrick.
While inmate-students may be working more independently right now, education staff still make regular visits to answer any questions students may have, and to check up on their progress.
In fact, Lee's flexible learning plan has enabled inmate-student Johnny C., to complete his GED coursework amid COVID-19. Johnny's official graduation date was March 30, but like the rest of the country's graduates, his ceremony – along with other joint reentry-program graduation ceremonies at Lee – has been postponed until further notice to prevent virus transmission in large gatherings. Still, that didn't stop staff from taking photos of Johnny in his cap and gown to commemorate the milestone with him.
"I am so excited that after six years of working towards this goal, I have officially earned a GED," said Johnny. "Lee's education staff has fully supported me along my education journey, always encouraging me to do my best. With a GED now under my belt, I plan to further my education by pursuing a certificate in carpentry so I am better prepared for that field of work when I return home."
Six student-inmates at Lee have earned their GEDs since the pandemic began. Nationwide, CoreCivic educators and reentry specialists continue to help inmate-students maintain their progress toward their educational and reentry goals. So far this year, nearly 1,800 inmate-students have completed degrees and certifications at CoreCivic.