“…All things are possible to him that believes.” Mark 9:23
Teaching the Roots of Success environmental literacy curriculum here at Stafford Creek has been not only a blessing to my life but has also been an enriching privilege and honor.
To teach a 10-module course in a classroom without any correctional staff, administration, or outside volunteers to sponsor it is unprecedented in the Department of Correction.
Daily it is just me and my two co-workers Grady Mitchell and David Duhaime in our classroom teaching a class of 20-30 eager incarcerated students.
They told us it could not be done.
But we are doing it.
They doubted that there would be any interest.
But we have become one of the most sought after programs among the men at the facility.
They thought that the material might be too difficult or challenging.
We said lets challenge them, now, we have graduated 5 class and about 125 students.
How was this done?…
It is only through believing that we can make a difference, were we then able to believe that we can impact our students.
It is only through instilling this belief in our students, that they have something to contribute to this world, that they began to care about how they have impacted their environment and how they will impact it into the future. Looking beyond their pain and into the possibilities.
My co-workers and I frequently met before our first class and agreed that if we did not believe in ourselves and then eachother, our students would never believe in us, this curriculum, or themselves.
And now we are seeing the effects of believing on the lives of not inmates, not convicts, not offenders, but on once broken men who are now on a conquest to make a difference as they repair their lives.
Many of our students came into class with a warped self-image.
Programmed to think that prison was inevitably predestined for their lives and that this is what they were being groomed for from the time they were conceived.
We assure them these lies have conditioned them to the point of complacency, stagnation, and then finally acceptance. This place of acceptance is the realm in which many of them dwell. After having accepted their plight.
This is why one of my students, who we call “Radio”, really touched my heart when he personally thanked me at the conclusion of his classes graduation.
“Sir, thank you. You pushed me when I did not want to move. You challenged me when I felt like giving up. You believed in me when I did not believe in myself. Even when I thought my future was hopeless, you quoted to me several times Jeremiah 29:11.”
“Radio” is just one of many success stories that the 3 of us laugh and joke about when times get hard and our patience may be running thin with our students. (Trust me anyone who has ever taught knows what I mean.)
But we never get discouraged by the uphill battle. We press on and continue to believe that what we are accomplishing is much bigger than any one of us.
“Radio” is a perfect example of how our believing in our students against all odds is giving hope to the hopeless.
Sooner or later these men will be released and even if that is not the case, these men enter into our classroom one way and by the time that they leave their minds have been expanded beyond recognition.
Dave, Grady, and I believe in eachother and our students.
Our student believe in us and now themselves.
Together we believe that what we are doing will transcend these walls and society will begin to believe in the great potential held within.
Categories: Cyril D. Walrond