I have the privilege of teaching student inmates through Bakersfield College’s Inmate Scholars Program. This is among the most rewarding experiences of my life, but there is no romanticizing it. It is a learning environment that presents unique challenges. To name a few: Student inmates don’t have the resources for research available to other students. It’s an unorthodox teaching environment requiring flexibility in dealing with the protocols of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Nevertheless, I experience a deep sense of reward as I take students through their first college course with an instructor that is physically present. As we progress in the semester, students become increasingly confident in their abilities, which they initially doubt. Many go through a transformation, a process of being re-humanized, which realizes the ideal of rehabilitation on which the program is based. Their gratitude is tangible. Teaching through the Inmate Scholars Program has stretched my teaching experience and made me a better instructor and person as a result.
To learn more about the program, click here.