This is how I feel most of the time

(I’m the baby bear).

I went to work yesterday…cried all the way there. This was really the very first time I haven’t talked to my Baba in, oh, 25 years. We had a difficult relationship, but I talked to her (or Judy) almost every day of my life. I moved back to Porterville so that Ben and Lisi could have access to Da amd Baba and it was just really tough to know that I was not going to have that little morning chat anymore,

One of the gals at work brought me flowers from her garden and it was just so touching. In all the years of teaching, I have usualy always had fowers on my desk from one child or another and I really missed that little nicety.

I answered my huge stack of mail and got out about 50 lessons to mail out. I have a good copier, so the lessons are easy, put I still have to pull them and then address the envelopes by hand–so it take a while. Keeps me busy. I have 120 students and they are all running about 94%-100% on their work—and I am gettting about 50 lessons a day, so I would say my little program is becoming more successful.

I went over to Level 1, which is minimim security. I think every prison has a Level 1–these are the guys you see on the side of the road, picking up trash and within the prison, these are the guys who work in the shoeshine shop, or clean in the admin building. They are usually guilty of minor felony stuff and have been sentenced to at least a year and a day. If they were sentenced to a year, they would go to county jail.

So they are more free world than inmate and easier to work with. I gave my little speech about my program–which is both a GED Prep program and a TABE PopUp. I need to test a guy and then I just give him the remedial stuff he needs to pass the test. I found a place online where I can submit their writing and it will evaluate it (writing is the hardest part).

At my particular institution, an inmate needs a 9.0 in reading, math and language to keep a pay numbBelow that, they can work for free or not have a job OR the privileges that go with a job (more visits, more phone calls, daily showers, more yard time). If it looks like we are coddling them, we aren’t.  All that stuff can be taken away for infractions—so the more you have, the more we can take away.

So I talked to the dorm reps and explained that if they took the test in prison, I would pay for it–about a $200 value. PLUS, it would belong to them. Since the certificate comes from the GED agency, it doesn’t have a stamp that says “INMATE” on it.

Of course, if they don;t get the test here, they can take it on the outs, but it will cost them personally about $200 and that is a lot of money for anyone. And I have written the lessons to only target what is on the test. Took me the better part of a year, but my scores are coming up, I’m getting good co-operation from my men and these successes really make a difference in the way they feel about themselves–which make for an easier time all around for everyone.

I like going over to Level 1–I go every week  and we talk about education and recreation. Coach and I make a good team, because I will take notes and ODDLY, I do know a lot about a lot, so I’m not just sitting there like a ant on a log. On some yards, I don’t get that feeling of connection–mainly because on the higher security yards, they’re all caught up in elaborate games and I am pretty cynical.

Today though, I am taking a furlough day. I just can’t manage going in. Judy is leaving today and we still have business to tend to. Winding up even a simple estate is an endless round of talking to people, fishing out papers, making copies. We were at one bank the other day and the gal remembered my mother so vividedly, it just left Judy and I both in tears.


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