Clark instructors help Larch inmates earn GEDs

first_imgYACOLT — Posted on the walls in the Larch Corrections Center’s education building are photos of inmates, beaming in blue caps and gowns.These are men who have earned their General Educational Development certificates, or GEDs. These are the men who came first.In a nearby classroom, other men in beige and burgundy uniforms huddle over textbooks and worksheets. These are the men who hope to come next.Clark College’s GED program at Larch Corrections Center is a cornerstone of the educational offerings at the 480-inmate prison. For many, it means more than passing the four-part test, earning the equivalent of a high school diploma. It means becoming a better partner, a better father, a better man. It means opening job opportunities, earning degrees — and never winding up back here again.The Columbian spent three days over two weeks at Larch Corrections Center talking to students, their tutors and their teachers.One of them was Howard Seaworth, who, when we first visited, was just one successful test away from completing his GED.“This is the start of a new beginning for me,” he said.A unique certificationOn May 14, students were working through practice GED worksheets and questions with peer tutors.Clark College recently received international recognition for its GED tutoring program at Larch, which pairs inmates preparing to take their tests with trained peer tutors. The program is now certified by the College Reading and Learning Association, which recognizes tutor-training programs across the globe.It may be the only prison-based program to have received the certification.GED teacher Lauren Zavrel spent long hours applying for the recognition after working with inmate teaching assistants for several years. She recognized the rapport the TAs were able to build with students, and she wanted to take that a step further. She started the lengthy application process last summer, working closely with inmates to develop the tutor-training curriculum.They learned on May 2 that the program had been certified.“These guys, they really want you to be successful,” said Joseph Jazwiec, a student in Zavrel’s class. “We all have a DOC number. They’re not better than me, and I’m not better than them.”last_img read more